Scott McCarney: VisualBooks

November 1 – December 16, 2011
Kathleen O. Ellis Gallery
Reception: Thurs, Nov 3, 5-8pm

As the days grow shorter, the thought of a man bearing sharp knives may bode ominously. Once Scott McCarney reaches for the tools of his trade, no book is safe. He has been making, reshaping, and reinventing books for over three decades. The idea of reworking books has lingered since childhood, when he preferred playing with paper to the war games that occupied other boys, and he was oddly drawn to the discarded books the local library set out for the taking. By the time a typewriter showed up on his Christmas list to Santa, the course was set.

McCarney questions what defines a book and does not shy away from turning his own answer on its head as needed. He has explored the concept of a book in over two hundred book projects to date. His work ranges from one-of-a-kind, hand-stitched bindings to print-on-demand editions to sculptural installations. Each book object broadens the idea of a book in a way that seems immediately natural, but rarely was imagined before.

McCarney takes the printed book and examines it for form, function, and message. His books may be carved or woven into intricate patterns, reinterpreted with images, or disemboweled to gently swing from the gallery ceiling. Any avid reader can tell you that books come alive through words. But few may have thought they would come alive in their physicality as they do for McCarney. It is an idea that shaped a boy early in life and has kept him busy ever since. The content of McCarney’s work ranges from autobiographical to political. Yet while his themes may vary from book to book, his quiet use of humor and his readiness to rethink, reshape, and reinvent books have remained a constant.

Hannah Frieser
Director, Light Work

Scott McCarney’s work has been exhibited internationally, including at the Center for Book Arts and Printed Matter Inc. in New York City; Tower Fine Arts Gallery in Brockport, NY; Minnesota Center for Book Arts in Minneapolis; University of the West of England; and other locations throughout the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and more. He received his BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA, and his MFA from SUNY University at Buffalo and Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, NY.

He has received numerous awards, including the New York State Foundation for the Arts Fellowship (printmaking/drawing book arts) and multiple Special Opportunity Stipends from NYFA/Rochester Arts & Cultural Council. McCarney’s work is featured in many permanent collections, including those of the Getty Center in Los Angeles, Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, the Museum of Modern Art Library in New York City and the Photographic Resource Center in Boston, among many others.