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Maria Pisano: Book Arts Gallery Guest Artist

Maria G. Pisano is the director of MGP Studio Arts and publishes artists books and prints under the Memory Press imprint. Her works are in numerous private and public collections, including the Library of Congress, the New York Public Library, the American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery, Stanford University, the University of Delaware and many more. Her book, Vita Defuncta, is part of the GBW 100th anniversary exhibit. She has published articles in the book arts publications Tabaellae Ansatae and Dog Eared Magazine. Her work is featured in Making Memory Books by Hand by Kristina Feliciano. Over the years she has been continually involved in curating exhibits, such as "The Elements: Creative Energy" at the Hunterdon Museum of Art, in Clinton, NJ. In 2006 she presented a paper at the Constructions of Death, Mourning, and Memory Conference. This will be followed in 2007 with an exhibit of the book works, at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Click here for her complete curriculum vitae. Ms. Pisano can be reached at MGPstudio@AOL.COM.

Maria now has her own website, so make sure to check there for the most up-to-date
information and images of her workfrom Memory Press.

Theater of Operations

Click on images to enlarge

Theater of Operations (the title referring to the naming of a battle in war as a theatre) was a direct response to the first gulf war, although the sentiments expressed can relate to all conflicts. Divided into three sections, each section designed as the letters W - A - R. W and R are made up of 8 pages cut into successive additive shapes to form the entire design, and give the gestalt of that letter. A stage is created, where many aspect of war are presented. The book is printed on acidic paper, a reminder of the value we bestow on human lives in a war. It comes in a sealed envelope, and it must be torn to remove the book, with the recipient becoming complicit in the act of destruction.

Spiral bound on two sides with GBC binding combs. The pages of the book open laterally on both the right and the left. One can look at it like a tradional book, by leafing through the page on alternate sides, or it can be viewed as a stage with information in the wings. Laser printed. Fully opened it measures 24" W x 5 1/2" H x 1 1/8" Th.Closed - 8" W x 5 1/2"H. Open edition. Memory Press © 2006


Click on images to enlarge

The photographs for Hidden were taken by the artist in Venice, Italy, during Carnevale. Carnevale is the lent celebration where people dress in costumes and parade around the city. The hired models never speak, only their eyes move, reinforcing the mysterious persona behind the mask. The book reflects these hidden creatures, foreign and detached to the viewer, not divulging what is within. Designed as a tunnel book, it collapses open, revealing both the outside and inside. The work is accompanied by a poem, written by the artist on the outside. Measuring 3”W x 3”H x 12”L, laser printed and enclosed in a case wrapper using the mosaic pattern from San Marco Cathedral. Open Edition. © Memory Press 2006.

Vita Defuncta

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Vita Defuncta is a response to the poem Patterns by Amy Lowell. The poem was first published in 1916 in the collection Men, Women and Ghosts. The contrast of loss in the poem, with nature, is very powerful. Nature is a constant, as it follows the cycle of the seasons through planting, growth, decay and renewal. We know that even in the dead of winter there is promise of life. War has also become a recurring cycle. Unlike nature, which brings change and growth through the seasons, war brings only death. Likewise, the woman in the poem is inwardly dead, and will remain emotionally static and sterile, presenting a façade to the outer world, where she exists only as a fragile ornament. In the book, language and symbolic representations are intertwined, with the images encompassing both the masculine and feminine aspects of the poem. Once opened, one views the perfectly manicured pattern of a white flower like form, which encases the text. Enclosed in a slip case, which becomes the symbolic black casket for the book within.

The book has been made possible thanks to a residency I received from Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, TX. The images and text were printed from photopolymer plates on a Vandercook Universal III press. Printed at LaNana Creek Press by Charles D. Jones and Terri L. Goggans. The paper is Arches MBM Ingres and Japan Yatsuo, and the type is Bauer Bodoni.

Tunnel Vision

Click on images to enlarge

Tunnel Vision takes a novel look at the Holland Tunnel, which connects New York with New Jersey. When I began this project, and did some historical research, the story of the tunnel itself, its workers, and its chief engineer fascinated me. This book seemed an ideal venue to mesh the child's fantasy and the historical background. The books structure is a tunnel book, 200 cm long when fully opened; the inside of the book depicts the imaginary vision of a colorful underwater world, where vintage and modern cars travel through its space accompanied by fish. The outside of the book represents the reality: close to 6 million tiles were used for the tunnel, so I used the tile pattern to create the outer walls of the book. It is here that I also include some of the more significant historical facts. The book is dedicated to my father, a manual laborer, whose contributions, like the workers of the tunnel, remained anonymous.

Created as a result of a residency at the Experimental Printmaking Institute at Lafayette College (EPI), Professor Curlee Holton, director. The book incorporates letterpress - for the poem and images in front and back covers, collagraphs- the interior and exterior walls of the accordion supports, intaglio, relief, chine colle, lithography and digital printing- the internal supports of the book. There are 8 inside supports, and each is cut to expose the depth of the tunnel. The font for the poem and other text is Frutiger. Printed on Rives BFK and kozo. It is enclosed in a plexiglass clamshell case. The book was designed, written and bound by the artist in an edition of 25. The printing was a joint effort between the artist, MaryAnn Miller, Valerie Linhart and Pat Masters. Printed at the Experimental Printmaking Institute at Lafayette College, at the University of the Arts and at the artist's studio. The book is an edition of 25. Book Dimensions: 16" W x 8" H x 80" L. © 2004 Memory Press.

The Four Elements Series

It was once believed that four elements made up the world. These four miniature tunnel books, AER, TERRA, IGNIS and AQVA, are my interpretation of this belief. Created in diverse media and laser printed, the books were designed, handcut and bound by the artist. These limited edition books, measure 2" x 3" x 1/2" closed and come enclosed in a case wrapper. Memory Press 2002

Click on images to enlarge

[AER: Aerial view with title, View into tunnel book, Case and front of book || TERRA: Front of book with title, View into tunnel book, Interior view || IGNIS: View into tunnel book || AQUA: Front of book with title, View into tunnel book, Case and front of book]

See Time Run: A Primer

Click on image to enlarge

Time controls our daily lives consciously or otherwise. In a society such as ours, living by the clock is the norm. In our quest to do more and live more, impediments creep in and rule our world. In this work I have chosen to make light of two intimately connected subjects - time and memory. Just as we incorporate the word "time" in many of our daily expressions, the book uses images and corresponding idiomatic phrases, i.e. "abreast of the times", "time flies," etc. , to integrate the themes. The entire book delves on how time inexorably keeps on moving on. Keeping with the times, the text of the book also speaks of the computer as the retainer of our memories, when our own may vanish. Today the computer is the time cruncher and memory saver. As such it is a great tool that both helps in retaining valuable and not so valuable information, and also creates a level of chaos. Ironically, we find that with all the additional information available, the quest to remember all and do all is futile. The pages are two sided. On one side are the idiomatic phrases with illustrative images, on the facing page is the text which accompanies it. The full text is divided into 11 pages and the writing is contrasted against a background of gears and other time related elements, again to reflect the continual movement of time.

See Time Run A Primer, incorporates collagraph, intaglio, relief, laser and ink jet printing for the images. Cyanotype is used for the text. The type for the text pages is BL Frutiger Black. A 24 page book printed on Arches buff. The shape of the pages and the binding structure reflect the theme of the book "time". Front and back covers join when the book is exhibited to form a circle with the pages acting as spokes, reflecting a structure that echoes the movement of time. Housed in a clamshell box. The book was written, designed, printed and bound by the artist in an edition of four plus one artist's proof. Memory Press 2000.

[Interior view of pages, Inside cover, Front cover]

This work was included in the exhibit "26th National Print Exhibition" at the Brooklyn Museum in 2001.


Click on image to enlarge

XYZ is a limited edition abc miniature book of watermarked letters created with fine beaten abaca in two colors. A concertina book consisting of 26 lettered pages alternating in colors measuring 65mm W x 72mm H x 12mm Th. Case bound, the covers are dark green with the title watermarked on front cover. Housed in a paste paper wrapper. The book was designed, hand pulled and bound by the artist in an edition of 26. Memory Press 2001

[Fanned view of covers, Detail of pages]

 link to Bonefolder Extras & link to Bonefolder


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