What inspired you to start making livres-objects – or book-shaped objects?
I discovered book-shaped objects in one of Suzanne Manns’ bookbinding classes at the Glassell School of Art in Houston, and found them to be an intriguing alternative to more classic artist book structures. The dialogue between text and image is expanded from two to three dimensions, resulting in multiple and often unpredictable configurations. Participation from the viewer is solicited, both visually and materially.
When you make your art, do you have a theme in mind?
It depends on the project; some have pre-determined themes, such as the Voyages show, and others are more open-ended. For the latter, I work directly with materials at hand: a book or box structure, media such as watercolor and collage, and found objects. It’s both a visual and tactile experience, and the story or theme unfolds during the process. They usually fit into ongoing series: abecedarius of places past and present, musings on identity and belonging, chance operations and random assemblages.
How would you personally define being a carnettiste and how it affects your views of exploration and travel?
I discovered this expression when I participated in the 2010 festival Ici & ailleurs (featuring carnets de voyage, or travel sketchbooks) in Brest. I love being known as a carnettiste, as it somehow makes legitimate my habit of always having a notebook/sketchbook at hand! Mine are always small in format, with a pencil or pen attached in some way, and a bit frayed around the edges from being carried around in a pocket or bag. It’s a simple and direct way to capture a mix of facts, sketches, words read or overheard, on an everyday basis and particularly while traveling, that can be expanded into larger works at a later point.
Who are your influences?
Pocket Art Museum sums up a portion of this artist’s journey! Kurt Schwitters’ collages were my first experience with works on paper; Joseph Cornell’s boxes at the Menil Collection and elsewhere are a continuing source of inspiration. Charlotte Cosgrove and Suzanne Manns shared their passion and expertise through their collage, assemblage, and artist’s book classes.
If not making art, what other way would you have chosen to express yourself ?
Photography is another of my interests, but primarily for book-related reasons: documentation for work in other media such as watercolors, and since being back in Europe, as a means of capturing where I happen to be at a given point in time. A series of photos from my year in London contributed greatly to In a TZ.
Ann Bruce Henaff’s exhibition is on display at the Library through Sunday, October 21, 2012.