Kate Cheney Chappell 83 Center for Book Arts

Kate Chappell

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Picture of Kate Chappell

Making marks is where it all began----in the childhood of every artist, and in the infancy of art, the first drawings on cave walls. I have been painting and drawing all my life, but my interest in book arts began with a class I took as an adult at the University of Southern Maine, “The Illuminated Autobiography,” with Rebecca Goodale and Dennis Gilbert. I discovered ways to combine the words of my story with images and structures that opened my mind to innovation, movement and dimension.

My artist books often start with printmaking. I mark handmade plates covered in gesso that I can print from once hardened. Sealed collagraphs (rectiliniar or free form), inked on both sides, build imagery in a process of many steps and layers. When I build up marks on the prints I have made earlier, I feel my accretion of gestures conveys the experience of a life lived on many levels. Other books may start with direct painting and handwritten narrative. Making marks directly with pure pigment, pen or brush, is natural and visceral for me. Sometimes the book form itself (without words) becomes the story unfolding.

The art I have made since the millenium is a response to the dislocation of animals and humans we are experiencing, through migration (“Moonbird” suite of monoprints), war and immigration, (“Keys to a Home No More,”and “Untitled: Aleppo,” both artist books) and the rapid degradation of our environment (“Earth Matrix” series of mixed media prints). Today, more than ever, I witness the tears in the fragile web of life we share with all plants and animals in the natural world.  May the work I make open people to the beauty and integrity in these interdependent connections we are losing every day.


“All the life of the planet is interrelated…each species has its own ties to others, and all are related to the earth.”

                                                      ~Rachel Carson

Artist Book by Kate Chappell