Gunn library to exhibit artist's books

A graduate of Wesleyan University and Smith College where she majored in art history and psychology, Tibbatts created half a dozen artist's books to be exhibited including her Wesleyan senior thesis project, "Water for Tea."

What exactly is an artist's book?

It's "using the book form as a jumping off point for my own creativity," Tibbatts explained, "approaching the book as a work of art."

There are many different types of artist's books. Some are more traditional kinds, perhaps made on a copy machine. There are also one of a kind books that are unique and limited in production. The books are all made in different ways.

Tibbatts designed "Water for Tea" to be read a special way. In a cherry wood box, cards with sumi-e (simple black ink) images slide back and forth to form different patterns. The images are of objects such as a teapot, a cup, a moon, and also of more organic objects such as grass and pine needles. Colorful cards with haiku printed on them accompany the images.

Tibbatts said she was nervous about displaying her poetry to the public, but after showing it to a few friends she overcame her fear. She views haiku as a form of active meditation.

"I was using it to just try to be in the moment," she said. "As a mother I seem to have such small chunks of time."

She is concerned that viewers of the exhibition won't have enough time to enjoy this artist's book, however.

"In an exhibition form, it's very hard for people to have the time and the quiet to really experience the book," she said, "I'm not sure whether people, especially at the opening, will be able to experience the book in that way, where they can really put the part of themselves in it that I think they really need to do."

Tibbatts has been interested in Japanese art since she was in her 20s. She spent six months during 1983 and '84 living in Tokyo where she studied calligraphy.

Sumi-e and haiku are both very simple types of Japanese art, and Tibbatts sees this as a positive for the viewers.

"They could really use the sumi-e and the haiku as a jumping off point for their own imagination," she said, "I like the idea of just being able to flip through them and each reader having their unique order and a unique way of viewing it."

Gunn normally displays two-dimensional pieces, so this is a first for the library.

What's next for Terri Tibbatts?

"I'd like to finish binding this book and then I'd like to start another book," she said, "I want to just keep making artist's books."

For information on the Gunn Memorial Library, call (860) 868-7586.