ABBIE READ PAYS HOMAGE TO THE WRITTEN WORD
by Taryn Plumb
Abbie Read grew up in a literary household, surrounded by books of all kinds (and yes, her last name is a rather stark coincidence). So, as the world has begun to alter the tangibility of books — from paper to screen — the Appleton, Maine artist has been compelled to create a living, growing homage to the volumes and sheaves that for so long held the various iterations of the written word. Titled “Library,” it has been the main focus of her creativity for two years.
Now measuring 28 feet long and seven- and-a-half feet high (and expanding) it is an assemblage of handmade, book- like boxes of varying sizes that contain random artifacts, found items, curiosities and miniature pieces of Read’s own art. “Books have been a big part of my life forever,” said Read. “It seems so strange to me to be going into a time when those are less valued as a source of information and knowledge. What’s going to happen with these items that are filling up actual, literal libraries?”
The large, rectangular, rich-on-the- eyes installation is currently displayed at the Clifford Gallery in the Waterfall Arts center in Belfast, where it will remain through March 21. Previously, it was a fixture in the Portland Museum of Art’s 2013 Biennial. Taking up an entire wall a quite large one, at that it is hectic with color, shape and texture. The boxes range from postcard-like to Atlas-sized, with many protruding out to various depths, giving the installation a 3-D, almost moving, quality. The piece encompasses blocks of text, fabrics, book covers and spines, and its numerous boxes hold images of butterflies and scientific profiles of skeletons, sepia photographs, buttons lined up in neat rows, painted spoons, dried mushrooms, tiny bottles and bundles of yarn, and one is even wrapped up with twine to resemble a package.