Land Art-Inspired Library Exhibit Showcases Books As Art

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If studying for anatomy or a differential equations final has burned you out, take a break and wander through the library’s exhibition of rare pop-up and moveable books. The exhibit, titled “Tunnel Vision,” is on display on the first floor lobby of the Marriott Library from now until June 3.

Visually, the books are as diverse as any art gallery — some look like architecture, others like sculpture and some like normal books. They’re designed to give an illusion of depth, and many of the books stretch, accordion-like, into actual paper tunnels.

One book on display, Ya Viene La Banda by Gloria Morales, is one of only seven editions of the text. The book is inspired by Mexican bands and unfolds into what appears to be a hallway, intended to be viewed through a peephole on the cover. Another book, Life Time by Julie Chen, has writing printed on eight discs connected by paper hinges and can be read by looking through the tunnel of expanded rings.

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Nancy Holt’s sculpture “Sun Tunnels,” a land-art piece consisting of four large concrete tunnels in Utah’s west desert, inspired the exhibition.

Luise Poulton, curator of the Marriott Library’s Rare Books Division of Special Collections, calls the genre “artists’ books,” and says the pieces on display are only a fraction of their collection.

“You have a limited amount of space and you have to pick and choose,” Poulton said. “We hope to keep the library space a vibrant, interesting one even beyond the obvious educational setting.”

The exhibit coincides with two upcoming events sponsored by the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, which will hold a workshop on April 23 — free for teachers and their families — exploring how nature and books can be used in education. On April 30, the museum encourages students and the community to join them at the site of Holt’s piece in Lucin, Utah. Lucin is about a 200-mile drive from Salt Lake City and the museum reminds any who choose to go to be prepared for hot desert conditions.

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Holt, who died in 2014, arranged “Sun Tunnels” so that the concrete tubes align with sunrise and sunset, and drilled holes in the form of constellations into the tunnels, allowing for diverse and intricate light patterns that vary throughout the day and year. Holt was married to Robert Smithson, who created Spiral Jetty, a famous land-art sculpture on the shore of the Great Salt Lake.

Matt Christensen, a sophomore in engineering, took time to look at the display between classes.

“I think it’s really interesting how they’ve created something both new and fresh, but out of a format we’re all used to,” Christensen said.

The exhibit is the result of a collaboration between the U Book Arts Program and the Utah Museum of Fine Arts.

m.bateman@dailyutahchronicle.com

@mbatman72

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