What began as a gathering of individual artists who assembled for a journal writing and bookmaking class, led by Fairfield artist Susan Newbold, evolved into an experience of self-exploration, newly formed friendships and synergistic creative expression for seven area artists.
The artists' group show, "Beyond the Book," at the Silvermine Arts Center, 1037 Silvermine Road, New Canaan, opens with a reception from 2 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 15.
The exhibition features a variety of works spawned from the group's shared experiences and collaborative art and will include handmade books, personal journals, paintings, sculpture, works on paper, and furniture.
The show, in conjunction with two others also opening on Sept. 15, runs through Oct. 26.
They employed the concepts, craft and content of personal journals and crafted books as a springboard to create artworks that go "Beyond the Book."
"Six of us are here because of the seventh, Susan Newbold, who inspired the journey through her expansive `Illuminated Journal' workshops," said Brock, from Weston. Working individually and in collaborative conversations, employing a wide range of mediums, the artists set out to explore and elaborate diverse pathways to and from the book.
Working alongside one another at Newbold's studio in Maine, the group members discovered that their efforts were organic and informed by their personalities, relationships and personal bonds.
"We began by painting on 10-by-10-foot strips of watercolor paper in our preferred, personal styles, then swapped paintings," said Joyce. "The artist that began the painting finished the piece. Working in this collaborative manner helped each of us move out of our own personal comfort zone, resulting in a sum greater than its parts."
Detailing her experience preparing for "Beyond the Book," Joyce said, "As a group, we held open studio sessions in which we painted collectively, helped each other set goals, edit and formed our vision for the show. We visited the Brooklyn Museum to see El Anatsui, an African artist who employed whole villages to use scraps of metal pieced together to form monumental wall hangings.
"This trip also included a visit to the Brooklyn Art Library to see the `Sketchbook Exhibit,' an international show of artists' books. These excursions enriched our group experience, strengthened our vision and gave us further ideas for art, which mixes mediums and methods."
In her work for the "Beyond the Book," Joyce incorporates strands of poetry intertwined with organic form and metaphor through a series of Coptic, accordion, and piano hinge bookmaking techniques. Paper lithographs of landscapes at dusk printed on a variety of metals and Japanese papers are combined with smoke paintings to evoke the mysterious and ephemeral quality of nature.
A series of paintings of dragons on metal depict nature's creative and destructive forces. Meditative mandalas incorporate materials found walking in nature with silver leaf and mirror discs. Branches and rivers form lineages through a series of golden accordion books.
The journal for Joyce "is a place where vestiges of time and mood are collected and transformed. Exploring ideas in the format of the book has stretched my work beyond its boundaries. Seeds of thought have been given a chance to gestate. If you work on something long enough, it becomes you," she said.
Joyce's other collaborative efforts include a community-wide, three-generational creativity workshop in New Canaan designed for teens, their moms and senior citizens for the National Charity League. Each session includes an art form from a variety of cultures and is a time of creating, sharing and inspiring.
Joyce also is collaborating with Mengel and Carrie Barron, co-author of "The Creativity Cure," on developing workshops that will meet at churches and will explore both creativity and spirituality. She plans to include journaling and bookbinding in future sessions in order to share with the community what she has learned and experienced working on the "Beyond the Book" project.
She also studied in Paris, and lived in North London, where she began to focus on fine art.
She is a guild member of Silvermine Arts Center, and has exhibited at the Center for Contemporary Printmaking, Farum Gallery, Denmark, the Lockwood Matthews Museum, Carriage Barn Arts Center, Greenwich Arts Council, Artists Alliance of East Hampton, and New Century Artists Gallery, New York.
The gallery at 1037 Silvermine Road is open Wednesday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. and Sunday 1 to 5 p.m. For information, call 203-966-9700 or visit www.silvermineart.org.