Karen Hankins

Much of my current body of work explores “the book “, a rapidly declining composition, and how, or whether, it remains purposeful in a digital age. As an artist my goal is to transform how a book functions outside of its uncompromising structure and reinterpret it as new and visually meaningful. 

I begin changing the book’s structure by expanding the physical properties of the book; folding, cutting and excavating it, rendering each page largely unreadable, and each book shape-shifts into an object, not of literature or science or history any longer, but an object of art. As the meaning of each book is subjugated to this objectification process, a shifting beauty transpires, aside from any language or text or etching held between the endpapers. As the type transforms, from a recognizable symbol to a simple visual mark, it no longer references a known cue, but introduces a new, visual language.

The process of accreting, accumulating, gathering and re-contextualizing through installations allows a conceptual landscape to emerge. These sculptures are created from discarded and deaccessioned books, which the viewer will recognize for their utilitarian virtue, but which may otherwise have gone unnoticed in their customary setting.

To push the viewer to visually engage with each form is my objective; beyond concept, above references, each piece seeks to explore the reciprocity between meaning and structure.

Karen is graduate of the University of Texas at Austin Fine Arts program and continues to live in Austin. 

Karen Hankins artist

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