Suzanne Coley - "Masked Purpose: The Aesthetics of Negative Space"
Department of English, Department of Romance Languages, Lamar Dodd School of Art
Suzanne Coley's main artistic fields are printmaking, poetry, and book arts. She has pioneered the style of book making called "couture textile books," combining precision and intentionality of design with bold experimentation and abstraction. Over the past fifteen years, Coley has merged couture sewing techniques with embroidery and poetry in her art. Her fine art textile books are in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institution (National Museum of African Art Library), The Folger Shakespeare Library, and the National Museum of Women in the Arts.
Her project Love Sonnets from Shakespeare to Baltimore, a series of couture textile books that include quilting, Shakepeare's sonnets, printmaking, and bookbinding, was supported with a Rubys 2020 grant by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation. The historian of the African American Quilters of Baltimore, Coley created a two-volume book documenting the members' quilting styles, aesthetic sensibilities, needle techniques and histories. She is a 2023-2024 Folger Shakespeare Library Fellow and a 2023-2024 Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (ACMRS) Fellow.
Can thoughts, emotions, and experiences be preserved and contributed for the collective benefit of humanity? Well-known literary tools have been used to pass human experience through the ages. Livre d’Artiste, or book arts, is one of the counterpart art forms that can be used for this purpose.
Love Sonnets from Shakespeare to Baltimore employs a broad range of visual arts tools and the cultural depth of Shakespeare's sonnets to examine the universal aspects of human life. In this talk, she will draw parallels between the seemingly simple structure, yet rich content, of Shakespeare’s sonnets and the design decisions throughout the books.
To gain more insight from this talk, an interested audience member is encouraged to read (out loud!) Shakespeare Sonnets 55 and 138 ahead of time. General information about book arts components and about the process can be gleaned from Coley's January 2023 talk at ACMRS.
This talk is part of the Symposium on the Book: “Unbinding Book History," September 12 and 13 in the Special Collections Libraries Building. The Symposium's sponsors are the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts, the departments of English and Romance languages, the Institute for African American Studies, the Lamar Dodd School of Art, the Institute for Women’s Studies, the UGA Libraries, the Office of Institutional Diversity, and the Bibliographical Society of America.
This two-day event unites talks from book historians and practicing book artists, featuring a plenary address by artist Suzanne Coley and a panel featuring special guest Jennifer Low, an early modern scholar and apprentice book artist. The symposium will demonstrate the diversity and range of contemporary book arts and book history. Coley’s work uses second-hand African, American, and African American textiles to explore gender, race, and memory through the creation of exquisitely sewn, embroidered, and printed books.
For more information please visit: UGA faculty panel with featured guest Jennifer Low and Symposium on the Book: Unbinding Book History.
I am so excited to be part of this symposium and I hope you can join us!