The Livingston Public Library’s June display case presents an exhibition of unique artist made books handcrafted by Maplewood artist and Book Arts RoundTable Member, Chuck Miley.
These books challenge the concept of a traditional book. and fall into three categories : Pop-up books, Movable metal books, and Critters.
Miley began making pop-up books after taking a workshop with Maryland book maker Carol Barton in the early 1980s. Chuck has taught at a number of institutions in the course of his career, including schools, Pratt Graphics Center NYC; Print Making Council of NJ; Akron Art Institute; and the NJ Center for the Visual Arts. He has held a variety of group and solo shows and his works are in numerous public and private collections.
The pop-up books he is showing in the library range from a three ring circus, complete with aerialists, clowns and a performer shot from a cannon, to other subjects including the Tortoise and the Hare from Aesop’s fables, The Hunchback of Notre Dame from his “Quotations from Classic Horror Films, Scenes from Balinese Culture, and a retelling of the “Firebird.”
The metal books Miley has created also challenge the idea of what a book can be. Miley retells and interprets Shakespeare’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “The Tempest,” and “Macbeth”. These books are constructed of brass, copper, silver, gold leaf, silk, gems and mica. The pages swing out on hinges revealing the next page of images and dialogue. In this way, and with openings within each page, they borrow from traditional tunnel books where the observer can look through openings to see more of the story. There are also interpretations of Lewis Carroll’s works , “The Walrus and the Carpenter,” a lifelong favorite of Chuck.
Finally there are the Critters. The Critters are sculptures of arthropods and insects that serve as boxes or containers for scrolls and accordion books. There is a lobster with a scroll of the Carroll’s “Lobster’s Lament,” from “Alice through the Looking Glass.” Other metal critters include a scorpion, a blue tailed fly, an octopus, a grasshopper with a scroll telling the Aesop fable of the “Grasshopper and the Ants,” a cicada, a praying mantis, a dung beetle and horseshoe crab.
This delightful and fascinating exhibition runs through the end of June and can be viewed during regular library hours.
-Archana Chiplunkar, Adult Services Librarian