Thursday, February 10, 2011

Looky Lookie: Sudden Flutter & An Interview w/ Carol Todaro

Sudden Flutter by Carol Todaro is bound in the yotsume toji style within a spine made of hand-made paper coated with black sumi ink. The book can be opened & placed at the spine so that the pages can flutter like bird wings. The book was designed, printed & bound by Todaro. The image & text was created with Adobe Photoshop & printed with archival inks on coated Mylar using an Epson Stylus Color printer. The end sheets are hand drawn with sandpaper & the pages are hand-cut.

In this months' segment of "Looky Lookie," I also decided to include an interview that I conducted with Carol. She is a local artist & a dear friend of the Center & was happy to humor us. It will allow us a little insight on Sudden Flutter & Carol's life as an artist.

JCBA: First off, how do you feel Sudden Flutter relates to other pieces of yours?
Carol Todaro: Sudden Flutter is one of the first books that I made & it is a touchstone for me in the sense that it is my first use of a fundamental image that I've returned to in other work over the last decade. In two larger installation pieces, for example, I've used the image of pages-as-wings.

JCBA: Who or what influences you regarding the content, the materials & the techniques that you use for your pieces?
CT: Many teachers have influenced me, from high school forward: Donald Saff had a profound influence on me in graduate school. Keith Smith was the first book artist that focused my attention to the genre & his books were my first teachers in book arts. Buzz Spector is another book-influence, through his writings & his work.

JCBA: What is your schooling background?
CT: I have an MFA in drawing & printmaking from the University of South Florida.

JCBA: What are your current projects?
CT: I'm starting a new collaborative piece with Peter Borrebach that will be on view during "O, Miami," the city's new poetry festival, in April this year. It's a piece made for the second-floor window space at Art Center/South Florida on Lincoln Road in Miami Beach.

JCBA: Besides that project, what are your extracurricular artistic activities?
CT: I'm married to an artist, Tom Lopez, & when we travel we make art, teach art seminars & see exhibitions. I teach at New World School of the Arts. I write, mostly poetry & belong to the Miami Poetry Collective.

JCBA: Since we like to stretch the definition of the book here at the JCBA, what is your definition of a book?
CT: My definition of a book is the very specific & traditional bound volume. Artists' books riff on all of the given physical & conceptual qualities of books & therefore an artists' book can be anything that refers back to those qualities. I like Johanna Drucker's direction, that artists who make books should "interrogate" every part of the book in order to tease out new ideas.

JCBA: With new technology, like the Kindle or the eReader, what do you think is in store for the book format?
CT: I don't know, but here are some thoughts on the topic:
Artists made digital forms of artists' books a part of the genre years ago. Books made for the screen & desktop printer have, in many ways (not all), fulfilled the promise of the artists' book as a democratic multiple.
I've seen a couple of articles recently (one in the New York Times magazine) about books as interior decoration, which I find depressing. I'd hate to see books become nostalgic collectibles. Books are inert without their content, whether that content is carried on pages or embedded in the object as a work of art.
What's evolving right now is a relationship between print media & digital media & I think that's where we need to focus our attention. It seems that publishing as an industry will be most profoundly changed by wide spread screen-reading. One question: how will the end of trade editions (if it comes to that) affect other forms of book production? It seems that small presses can do what they've always done. Is it possible that some materials & products (ink & paper?) will become dear if they are no longer used by mass media? We can make them from scratch, too!

JCBA: Finally, what advice can you give to aspiring book artists (besides "get out while you can?")
CT: My advice is just the opposite, to all artists: make a book. Artists' books are great companions to other art forms, allowing artist to open their processes & expand the line of inquiry. If an artist approached making a book not as a collection of images, but as an image itself, a thing complete, a time-based piece, it can change her work in profound way.

Thank you again, Carol, giving us some little tid-bits & don't forget to check out Carol's work at the art Center/ South Florida this April during "O, Miami."


  1. "Sudden Flutter" happens to be on exhibit right now at JCBA as part of the DIALOGUE exhibition currently being installed. Official opening date is February 27, but you'll find Sudden Flutter in one of the two big window cases flanking the entrance to JCBA's Letterpress Studio now, paired with a painting by Helen M. Salzberg. A really great book by a really wonderful artist.