Lost and Found, then Lost and Found

Posted by on June 9, 2017 in Art, Art Appreciation, Maggie's New Art, Maggie's Studio News | 3 comments

Reflections, altered book art by Virginia Beach artist, Maggie Kerrigan

Last week I told you the story about how I became fully involved in making art and painting. If you look at my portfolio of paintings though, you can see that my work is all over the map.

For years, I’ve been painting landscapes, house portraits, pet portraits, acrylic, pen and ink, abstracts, realism, and on and on. I could not settle on a genre, a medium or even a cohesive color palette. Though I had found my studio, found my passion, I was still lost.

Again, something unexpected happened. This time it was a news story that my cousin Jane sent to me from Scotland. An artist there was creating book sculptures and anonymously leaving them in the libraries around the country. It was creating incredible excitement and an outpouring of public support for libraries at a time that the government was planning to cut funding.

I’d never considered sculpture made from books, but there were boxes full of them in the attic from my days of teaching. So I played around with some ideas for a book about the moon, then a hot air balloon, and then a cookbook.

I can’t even describe the cautious, puzzled questions from the other artists at the cooperative, “Now what is that you’re doing?” As a relatively new member, I was feeling a little foolish. But the challenge of making these book sculptures was intriguing, and it was luring me in.

As I continued experimenting with methods, including carving and folding books, the response from the other artists became more encouraging. Their caution was turning to wonder. And the response from the public was phenomenal.

In homage to my anonymous inspirer, I also secretly planted book art into the 10 public libraries of Virginia Beach. That created quite a buzz, which even garnered some press attention. I also began winning awards for book art. And the artwork began to sell.

Maggie Kerrigan wins an award for Alice was Pushed!, an altered book in Virginia Beach.

A telltale sign that this is the right medium is that inspiration for the next piece is never far away. I used to work so hard to come up with ideas for paintings, but the book ideas—they find me, all hours of the day, seven days a week. I no longer procrastinate on projects; I usually can’t wait to dig in.

I was lost with painting, but with books, I’m found.

How about you? Are you lost right now? Looking for that juju that will put the fire in your belly? Or are you found? Either one is ok, because this life is just one great journey. Where are you on your path?

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  1. Maggie, Thank=you for being a patient, persevering source of “Lost and Found” with myself and “Sullivan House”.
    This Mondays’ art lesson helped me to answer your query. The 5th grader artist in me emerged. I remember this grade level teacher was an artist–Sister Dolatta–but she was rather stern and critical, yet she had our class create an art work like a wall paper. We had to do the same 2 x 3 inch rectangle over and over again on a large piece of art paper. I can visualize my work to this day. It created a calmness and satisfaction that free style can not do. This piece created the same feelings. There is something about doing the same thing over and over with in boundaries that helps me. This same feeling did not happen with the book art. The arthritis in my hands kicked in. This piece of art work also gave me a connection to my dreams and spirit. Thank-you for your dedication to sharing your gifts with others.

  2. From your cousin, Jane, who is ever so happy you have “found.” Your beautiful book sculptures are on display in our home and more–love them! Long may you be inspired, passionate and willing to share.

    All the best,

    Jane x

    • Jane! You are the source of my original inspiration! I love telling the story of how you sent me the articles about the artist in Scotland. See what you have done?! Thank goodness!

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