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Karen Hanmer

Book art image

Big River

Big River was created with pigment inkjet prints, binders’ board, Plexiglas and ball bearings. The interactive piece allows the reader to maneuver a ball into divots corresponding to cities mentioned in the Johnny Cash song Big River. The song portrays a lovesick narrator chasing his woman down the Mississippi River, missing her at every port. “Reading” the book requires hand-eye coordination, patience and a bit of luck. The piece is reminiscent of both books and toys from childhood.

Artist Karen Hanmer said: “My sculptural books and installations fragment and layer content to mirror the experience of personal and cultural memory. The work often has a playful presentation, taking the form of puzzles, games or decks of cards.”

Press: Constructed by the Artist
Date: 2004
Number and Edition: 3 of 20
Size: 10.75” x 8.75”


Book art image


Bluestem was inspired by a quote from Willa Cather's novel, My Antonia: Everywhere, as far as the eye could reach, there was nothing but rough, shaggy, red grass. And there was so much motion in it; the whole country seemed, somehow, to be running." Pigment inkjet prints on polyester film form a double-sided variation on a flag book created in collaboration with Henry Maron.

Karen Hanmer's artworks present vignettes from personal and cultural memory that allow viewers to personally connect with her pieces. She often incorporates archival photographs and text into books that fragment and layer images to mirror the experience of memory. Her books are meant to be handled by the reader.

Press: Constructed by the Artist
Date: 2006
Number and Edition: 10 of 25
Size: 8” x 10”


Book art image

Letter Home III

Using one of the more difficult book structures, this flag book relates a young Navy wife’s letter written from Europe to her family on the farm. Three long rows of photographic images overlap, with the center row flowing in the opposite direction of the other two. A single, complete image is revealed when the book is fully extended.

Aritst Karen Hanmer said: “Many include text, often archival, usually first person accounts. The pieces are made to be handled. The intimate scale and the gestures of exploration required to travel through a piece evoke the experience of looking through an album, a diary, or the belongings of a loved one.”

Press: Constructed by the Artist
Date: 2004
Number and Edition: 4 of 20
Size: 8” x 5.6”

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