USM Art Galleries Gorham and Portland

Hidden Stories

Hidden Stories

January 19 – February 18, 2023
Opening: January 26, 6 pm

An accordion folded paper with a cut out of a key on the left hand side

An exhibition of work by artists Kate Cheney Chappell and Annie Lee-Zimerle spanning book arts and other primarily 2D mixed-media.

Pictured above:

Keys to a Home No More by Kate Cheney Chappell, 2018. Accordion Book: monotype, copper leaf, collage; found material (life raft nylon); supplemental pamphlet-stitch books (handmade paper, monotype, found material, and waxed linen thread).

"I made this artist’s book in response to a poem written by Aphrodite Vati Mariola, a resident of the Greek island of Lesvos who helped refugees of war who fled across the sea. The poem recounts the arduous land journey, the perilous crossing, and the relief they felt when they finally arrived and were treated well and cared for. With more arriving every day, the refugees had to move on. One family left their keys behind and the mother said,

'We have no need for them. They are to a home which is no more. Keep them, please. To remember.”

This struck me powerfully—-it was hard to imagine losing not just my keys but my home, my sanctuary, the place I find rest, comfort, family connection. How would it be for you, too, to lose your home forever?

I invited members of Peregrine Press to send me pictures of their house-keys. One is from Lesvos, sent to me by Mary Snell who spent time assisting refugees there, collecting their stories. As I drew and cut the shapes, I realized how unique each key’s cut and profile is, like the individuals who possess them. Similar to a fingerprint or an iris, no two are alike.

The accordion book form lends itself to an experience of journey. It appears to be an ordinary book when the covers are closed, but when it opens, like an accordion that plays full sound when stretched out, the sense of moving across time is seen. The negative shapes of the keys are cut above the turbulence of the sea; the same shapes repeat, in positive, in the paper keys dangling from the closure ties on each cover. I made these ties from scraps of the life rafts that crossed the Aegean Sea, and strung the keys through them. When the book is closed, they encircle it completely.

— Kate Cheney Chappell 

A pop-up book is open with a series of pink flowers and green leaves popping up

Mugunghwa (Rose of Sharon) by Annie Lee-Zimerle, 2022
Pop-up book: watercolor and crayon on paper, book board, and cloth 18 1/2 x 28 x 7 3/4 in. (open), 18 1/2 x 14 in. (closed).

The Mugunghwa (Rose of Sharon) is the national flower of South Korea and is recognized for its hardiness and resilience. The plant is able to regrow despite harsh conditions and even when damaged.

Since the pandemic, I have experienced, witnessed and seen in the news that hate crimes against Asians and Asian women have gone up. After the shooting in Atlanta, targeting Asian women, I wanted to create a book that honors our strength and resilience and that we always bounce back.

– Annie Lee-Zimerle