National Museum of Women in the Arts
Genie Shenk
1937 - present
Photograph of Genie Shenk, courtesy of the artist
Work Type/Media:
Books and manuscripts, Textiles and clothing, Installation Art
Artistic Role(s):
Book Artist, Installation Artist, Mixed Media Artist , Textile Artist
Artist's Statement:
I trace my interest in dreams to early childhood. I experienced dramatic nightmares and vivid symbolic dreams, many of which I still remember. As an adult, I began to keep dream journals. Jungian philosophy has been a strong influence and dream-work is a vital force in my life. I see the concept of the collective unconscious as a validation for introducing dream material into my art, hoping to evoke in viewers at first curiosity, then a sense of recognition.

When I was four, my family acquired a copy of Rockwell Kent’s, World Famous Paintings. In the following years, I nearly wore it out. Perhaps my preference for paper as a medium stems from first experiencing art through reproductions. Growing up, the best period was in New Orleans, where I saw paintings in the city museum and took my earliest art classes.

After graduating from Rice University with too many degrees in English, I taught, had children, and finally began to take art seriously. In the Master of Fine Arts program at UCLA in 1987, I was introduced to book arts by Simon Toporovsky. San Diego Mesa College subsequently hired me to teach color theory and encouraged me to start an experimental book arts course. Sharing my interests with students and other professional artists has turned out to be totally unexpected delight.

My work in book arts is diverse. Installations include Spiral, a circular sculpture made up of 150 large modular books, and Word Book, suspended pages of lettered kozo and mica. Griefpieces range in topic from deaths to national disasters, and often feature found objects such as rusty letters, old battery parts, rock-hard fudge. But the focus of most of my research and experimentation is dream logs and related dream pieces. I see myself as one of the artists who use the book as a register, for dreams, belongings, travels, events. By defining their own lives, they are drawn to life's core.

Statement courtesy of Genie Shenk

Other Occupation(s):
Place(s) of Residence:
Solana Beach
Where Trained/Schools:
Rice University, Houston, TX, USA University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Related Visual Artists:
student of Simon Toporovsky
NMWA exhibition(s):
Book as Art VI
Book as Art: Tenth Anniversary Exhibition
Insomnia: Landscapes of the Night
The Book as Art: Twenty Years of Artists' Books from the National Museum of Women in the Arts