Exhibitor Profile: Alyssa C. Salomon/Blue Skies Workroom

Blue Skies Workroom Alyssa Salomon Relative Medium 2.jpg

Meet Blue Skies Workroom. 

Richmond, VA

In a couple of sentences, please describe the mission of your project.

Relative Medium is bookbinding as collection and as visual experience.  Covers, dimensions and construction methods of all these books are identical but the contents for each book is unique.  Comprised from decades of accumulated paper, the books are part utilitarian journal for use by the buyer and part color study as hand-bound artist book created by me.  

As an artist yourself, do you see bookmaking as an extension of your practice? If yes, how so?

I use hand bookbinding extensively as a teacher.  The tactile processes are seductive and easily reveal foundational lessons about creativity, mindfulness, and viewer experience.

This project is the first time in almost two decades that I’ve used book forms and bookbinding to realize a body of finished work for exhibition. As Jews, we call ourselves “People of the Book”.  I read Ann Hamilton describing herself “I am a reader”.  These are self-identifications that fit how I see myself in the world. 

I made a series of portraits once called “Bibliographies” which were daguerreotypes of selections from the subjects’ personal libraries.  We understand the world through what we know about the world and a big way we know about the world is through books - words and pictures and the hand-eye-mind process of going through them. 

Are there any organizations or people in your community that have been particularly influential to you and your project?

VCU Special Collections and its librarians are a limitless resource.  I have been fortunate to teach a bookmaking elective in VCU School of the Arts Department of Photography and Film, working with engaged, I would say electrified students, who are drawn with passion to books and publications as methods to build and experience ideas.  Of course, with students, I go to Special Collections a lot.

And Tim Eads!  In studying with Tim at Penland School of Crafts this summer, my inhibitions about surrendering to my love of color and pattern were snapped free.

Your favorite art-related publication or art exhibition from the last year?

Exhibitions:  Philadelphia Museum of Art exhibition about the textile company Vlisco; and Parched|Inverted Landscapes by Susan Goethel Campbell, Penland Gallery

Publications:  I have been going back to Josef Albers’ Interaction of Color to examine my reactions to and preferences for color combinations and rhythms.  The title of the project I will have at CURRENT Books comes from Interaction of Color … “Color is the most relative medium in art.”

I’ve also been thinking about Dieter Roth binding up everything into books or things that are placeholders for books.  In 2001 we saw an exhibition in Barcelona that included his sausage-cased shredded newspapers - I keep the poster in my studio.

Do you have any upcoming projects you would like to share?

At CURRENT Books, I am debuting my newest project, Relative Medium, and am thrilled to be able to present this experimental exploration of color and paper in book form within the context of a book fair.

One of the exciting things for me about developing Relative Medium has been designing and screenprinting the book covers using a paper-based, leather-like fabric.  The material is washable, made from plants, manufactured in Germany, and beginning to be used by a few accessory designers.