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Re: women/men in book arts

Dear Friends

    I'm responding to Barbara's comments about my rosy view of the book
arts community and have to admit that this view comes from minimum
contact. My main contact is this List. I too have seen words fly here
but I guess I chose to focus on the helpful exchange of information and
email connections around the world that have come to me from the list.
There is also a budding book arts group in Boston, I have missed a lot
of my meetings but the few I have attended fit my description. It is
very low-key and supportive. But I must admit my overall exposure is
    I came to the book arts from calligraphy which I did find
competitive and petty. I was more involved in that world, did attend
conferences and workshops, and had more of a view of the personal
politics and pecking order. I did not feel that the it was particularly
open to new ideas or new people. I came to the book arts not to get away
from the people in calligraphy but because creatively I needed a change.
In calligraphy, I was torn between the desire and need for
self-expression (and I'm not talking about gooey stuff, I like to think
I have some self-discipline in my work)  and the desire to make as
perfect and fluid letters as I could. I came to the point that I really
was not interested in the struggle for the perfect letterform and felt I
somehow came up short because of it. It sounds so simple now but I
agonized over those feelings. When I came to the book arts, I felt as if
the world opened wide for me creatively. I tried to learn as much as I
could technically to get my point across and present my thoughts but I
wasn't hung up on technique the way I was in calligraphy. This is not to
say that competition only relates to technique but at least in
calligraphy I felt that a lot of what was going on was about that rather
than content.
    I'm also in a different place personally than I was when I made the
shift 12 years ago. I still consider myself an artist but I spend less
time in the creation of art than I do teaching workshops in schools. I'm
good at what I do and get lots of positive affirmation every time I
teach. Having a place where I can go and work hard and get immediate
gratification as well as pay has been freeing. While I am ambitious for
my artwork- I enter exhibits and am conscious of my resume, I am asking
less from it than I did before. When I start on a piece my main intent
is getting it right and making it whole- kind of like Little Bear's just
right porridge in Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Once I've gotten there
I don't much worry if it's good or bad or where it stacks up. I still
believe in art as communication, that it truly lives when it is
experienced by others, and I don't make art just to make it and fill my
house with storage boxes, but in some way it matters less what happens
when it's done than it used to. And if you think this all sounds too
rosy and good, one of these days I will post a continuation of my
publishing saga which I haven't added to in awhile. I've encountered
lots of frustration there, a combination of the ways of the industry and
I suspect my own stubbornness.
   One last comment about my exhibit reception stories- One of the
curators of the exhibit in South Orange was Ed Hutchins. I think
everyone who knows Ed is inspired by his open spirit. I do think that
his presence contributed to the atmosphere I described.
    Thanks for listening.

in good spirit

Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord
Newburyport, MA


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