books

Photographer Pays Homage to Expired Library Books by Turning Them into Art

While books are considered a work of art by their own nature, one photographer is taking it a step further by using books to create a larger masterpiece.

 

Artist Kerry Mansfield pays homage to the history of old books in her photography series Expired, honoring the ways in which their aged exteriors reflect their interactions with readers who have touched them.

 

book

Source: Kerry Mansfield 

 

When we pass aged books lining the shelves of libraries and bookstores, catching the tethered bindings, torn edges, and stained pages, we may overlook their value. But, those same imperfections can reflect the high value and long journeys books have had, Mansfield explains.

 

“In Expired, each picture serves as an homage to the book’s history, etched onto the pages by way of marginalia, a yellowed coffee splatter, or sticky peanut-butter-and-jelly fingerprints. It’s easy to feel a sense of abuse and loss, but these books say much more.”

 

book

Source: Kerry Mansfield 

 

“They show the evidence of everyone that has touched them, because they were well read, and well loved. They were not left on shelves, untouched. Now they have a new life, as portraits or records of the shared experience unique to the library book,” says Mansfield.

 

On her website, Mansfield reflects on the “right of passage” she undertook as a child after shortly after learning to write her name in which she would print her name on a library check-out card. Though the act seemed simple, it signified a larger meaning for the artist.

 

“I remember reading the list of names that had come before me and savoring the feeling that I was a part of this book’s history– a shared, communal experience exposed by curly-Q handwritten names and room assignments,” Mansfield said.

 

pic

Source: Kerry Mansfield 

 

Her appreciation of library books and the values they held carried on throughout her adulthood during which her passion for art only grew. While studying architecture in school Mansfield learned an important term – one in which perfectly summarized her love and appreciation of old books.

 

“I learned the Japanese term “wabi-sabi”– the art of finding beauty in imperfection and acceptance of the natural cycle of growth, decay and death. Unlike the American cultural focus on spectacle, wabi-sabi is underplayed and modest, the kind of undeclared beauty that waits patiently to be discovered.”

 

 

book

Source: Kerry Mansfield 

 

Mansfield found this undeclared beauty in the aged jackets of expired library books, books which have been found their way in the hands of countless readers, passed along until they reach their final destination of warehouses. After Mansfield found an old check-out card in the back of a book at Goodwill years ago, she “made it her mission” to find as many as she could and document them in celebration,

 

“We must take time to celebrate the swiftly disappearing communal experience offered by library books as they are being replaced by downloads, finger swipes, and plastic newness. If you listen carefully, you can hear the aching poetry–the burden of the years that calls from their tattered pages.”

 

 

Featured Image Via Kerry Mansfield