The transformation from flat page to the dimensional form of a full-blown pop-up is the point of surprise that drives my work. I’ve always enjoyed exploring the structural aspects of materials—metals, wood, concrete, and in this case, paper. The design of pop-ups, or “paper engineering” involves a bit of architecture, a basic understanding of mechanics, and a lot of trial-and-error problem solving. But construction of the pop-ups is only a small part of the larger design challenge in creating a successful artist's book. Text, images, sequencing, rhythm and the flow of time across a book’s pages are all elements to be considered, and any number of artistic processes and materials can be incorporated into the book format. The fact that an artist's book can encompass such a wide range of subject matter and materials prompted me to make the transition from painting to book arts early in my artistic career.
In 1977, after graduating as a painting major from Washington University School of Fine Arts in St. Louis, I moved to Washington, DC to work at Glen Echo Park Arts Center. One of the park’s resident arts groups, The Writer’s Center, was promoting the production of artists’ books on a small Multilith offset press. I learned the pre-press skills necessary to start printing my own work and later was offered a small grant to produce my first artist’s book at the center. In subsequent editions, I became interested in adding pop-ups to the pages, and spent two years mining the great libraries of our nation’s capitol looking for inspiration in their collections of early dimensional and movable books.
My father was a diesel engine mechanic, and my own love of the structural and mechanical aspects of pop-ups probably stems from his early influence. As my work evolves, I’m constantly finding new ways to push a book’s pages beyond their flat surface and to integrate a message into the very form of the book, weaving visual and verbal narrative into the magic of a third dimension.
Statement courtesy of Carol June Barton
Washington University School of Fine Arts, St. Louis, MO, USA (1972-1976)
Participant, Affiliate Artist Program, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA, USA (1987)
Purchase Award, Baltimore Museum of Fine Arts, Baltimore, MD, USA (1983)
Work-in-Progress Grant, Maryland State Arts Council, Baltimore, MD, USA (1982)