Artist Creates Massive Altered Book Sculptures Coated in Wax

Artist Creates Massive Altered Book Sculptures Coated in Wax by Jessica Drenk - Reading Our Remains Carving

Interested in archeology and paleontology, South Carolina based artist Jessica Drenk transforms mass-produced commercial products such as books, PVC piping, and toilet paper into organic forms that resonate with their material origins. Drenk cuts and carves book sculptures into old volumes and transforms them into fossil-like structures that she coats with wax, leaving some of them smooth to the touch. The play between form and material draws a parallel between the archival impulses of books and archaeology, and posits a common fate for all objects. “On a long enough time scale, there is no difference between manmade and nature; in the life cycle of objects, everything eventually returns to the earth,” Drenk has said. Tactile and textural, her sculptures highlight the chaos and beauty that can be found in simple organic materials. Drenk’s work is also influenced by systems of information and the impulse to develop an encyclopedic understanding of the world.

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Reading Our Remains

Reading Our Remains, featured above, is an ongoing collection of altered and manipulated books, each piece inspired by nature and the ever-changing natural world. The collection began as an exploration in obscuring text: creating pieces in which visual form became the subject to be read. This process eventually evolved into a meditation upon erosion and decay and the preservation of culture through time. Inspired by fossils, geological specimens, and organisms of all kinds, these books have been re-formed into objects that seem better suited to a natural history museum than a library. Viewing them has also become a new experience: we are reading and studying ourselves, the specimens we are, and the specimens we might leave behind.

Artist Creates Massive Altered Book Sculptures Coated in Wax by Jessica Drenk - Cerebral MappingArtist Creates Massive Altered Book Sculptures Coated in Wax by Jessica Drenk - Cerebral MappingArtist Creates Massive Altered Book Sculptures Coated in Wax by Jessica Drenk - Cerebral Mapping

Cerebral Mapping

The wall installations in the Cerebral Mapping series, featured above, are crafted from books, cut into thin strips, entwined together, and coated with wax. Organic shapes and swirling lines reflect patterns in nature, from capillaries and neurons to rivers and deltas. The sequential logic of the book is dismantled and re-ordered to resemble the beautiful chaos found in the world around us and that within our own bodies.

Artist Creates Massive Altered Book Sculptures Coated in Wax by Jessica Drenk - BibliophylumArtist Creates Massive Altered Book Sculptures Coated in Wax by Jessica Drenk - BibliophylumArtist Creates Massive Altered Book Sculptures Coated in Wax by Jessica Drenk - Bibliophylum

Bibliophylum

The thousands of individual pieces that together comprise the Bibliophylum wall installation may resemble natural or cultural artifacts, but are in fact carved from wax-embedded books. Pinned to the wall in loosely organized groupings of color, size, and shape, the arrangement of these small pieces suggests a classification or order, while the objects themselves defy categorization. The pieces, carved from wax-hardened books, retain word fragments now removed from their original context, altering both the books and their meanings.

all images courtesy of the artist, via Jessica Drenk

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