ARTS | Book design

Background

The Lawrence Arts Center is a public and private partnership, a regional center for visual and performing arts, contemporary exhibitions, film, and lectures. These programs are complemented by fully developed curricula in ballet and modern dance, theater performance, and visual arts. The Arts Center employs over 120 teaching artists whose courses observe Kennedy Center standards for visual and performing arts. 10,000 students take courses annually, and the Arts Center greets over 200,000 visitors each year.

Its mission is to enrich and invigorate the community by offering the best in contemporary exhibitions, performance, and visual and performing arts education.

Challenge

Hong Chun Zhang's 2012 exhibition at the Lawrence Arts Center combined classical Chinese fine watercolor painting, oil painting, charcoal drawing and a site-specific installation that juxtaposed her impressions of chaotic urban China with the serene Kansas landscape. I was asked to create a companion book for the exhibition.

Solution

Hong's show was exhibited in two galleries, and each created distinct emotional experiences. But the nature of hair and wire felt intimate in this context, so a booklet felt like a more appropriate reminder of the journey that patrons took through the exhibition.

Hong finished her last painting hours before the exhibition opened, and booklets also were rushed because a vendor could not produce the binding I wanted. So, we enlisted a volunteer army and sewed together each booklet by hand with hemp thread the night before opening.

The chaos was a "haywire" of a different sort and a perfect complement to Hong's work.

Art direction and design // Chris Ralston    Exhibit photography // Jon Hardesty