Julie Chen

Octopus, 1992, Julie Chen. Poem by Elizabeth McDevitt

Julie Chen is a very talented book artist whose work I first saw "in person" in February 2007 in Washington, DC at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. NMWA hosted a wondrous exhibition of artists' books, The Book As Art: Artists' Books from the National Museum of Women in the Arts, that included over 100 works from their collection of more than 800 artists' books. Although there's nothing like seeing the work itself, the exhibition catalog is a delight.

Chen started Flying Fish Press in 1987, and describes it as "dedicated to the design and production of books which combine the quality and craftsmanship of traditional letterpress printing with the innovation and visual excitement of contemporary non-traditional book structures and modern typography. There is an emphasis on book structures which can function both traditionally as books as well as sculpturally as objects to be displayed."

Her work is varied and rich in content, both literally and figuratively, and multi-dimensional. Here are a few examples. Featured in the NMWA exhibit were Octopus, True to Life (not shown here) and Bon Bon Mots. Check out the Gallery page on the Flying Fish Press web site for these and other of Chen's books.

Ode to a Grand Staircase (for four hands),
Julie Chen and Barbara Tetenbaum

Bon Bon Mots, 1998, Julie Chen

Personal Paradigms: A Game of Human Experience, Julie Chen

You Are Here, Julie Chen


Riverlark said...

Julie is also a wonderful teacher. It could be daunting to work with someone who has created such accomplished works but she is very down to earth and committed to helping book artists move beyond just fun structures to creating content. I took a short course with her about 5 years ago and I was overwhelmed with what I did (thanks to her). Last year I spent 2 weeks at Haystack with her and it was a daily carnival of content. I particularly liked how we worked on simple models (with simple content) and multi-days projects that evolved as we worked on them.
She brought a whole slew of materials to use, including a massive rubber stamp collection and a small color printer that we could use to print out our own pictures of Haystack.
I understand she's taking a break from teaching and I can understand why she might want to do that. She puts so much thought into her students that it would be difficult to focus on your own work at the same time.

Judy said...

So glad to have come to your site. Wow those book by Julie Chen are really amazing!

Clara said...

RL, I've been meaning to put up some of her books since I saw them at the exhibition. I hope she surfaces soon. I'd love to take a class with her.

Judy, thanks for visiting. I hope you had a chance to take a look at the Gallery on the Flying Fish Press site. There are some other wonderful books of hers there too.

richard said...

Such gorgeous pieces. I saw some like this at an exhibit in Edmonton in about 1997, I think; the Bruce Peel Special Collections Library at the U of Alberta has a nice collection of book art (is that the right term?).

Clara said...

You're way ahead of me, Richard. I didn't even know what "artists' books" were until about three years ago, and now I'm in love. "Book Arts" is the term for the field of study and practice; artists' books for the work product.

richard said...

Hey, I didn't go looking for them: I was going to school there and spent way too much time in the Bruce Peel!

Kristin Saegaert said...

How did I miss this exhibition?! I was in D.C. in February this year. Hmfff! I would have made it a "must see"! Thanks for your post!

Clara said...

Kristin, I ended up seeing the exhibit on the very last day it was open!

Kristin Saegaert said...

Thanks Clara for your kind words on my blog! To answer your question about finding hot press watercolor paper - yes, I get in online at Misterart.com. They ship it flat, have no minimum order, and do not charge an oversize shipping fee - works for me! Thanks for asking!

Melissa P Hackmann said...

Hi there - love your blog and book info too. I've seen your blog before and was excited to see you saw mine - if in Wash dc again - drop a line we can talk books.

Melissa P Hackmann

Green Chair Press said...

There's a nice online exhibition of "Ode to a Grand Staircase" from the Getty Museum in LA. It combines the music that inspired the book with views of the book spreads.

Clara said...

Green Chair Press, thanks for the link. It's a delight to see Ode to a Grand Staircase "in action."

Melissa, I wish I'd known more about the field of book arts when I lived in D.C. I would have come to your class at the Corcoran!

Kristin, you can call the National Museum of Women in the Arts and ask to see some of the books in their collection.