Not By The Book is Full of Celebration | Greenwich Sentinel

By Emma Barhydt

Just Yesterday, the Flinn Gallery in the Greenwich Library opened its new exhibit, Not By The Book.

Not By The Book is the Flinn Gallery’s first exhibition of the 2021-2022 season, highlighting the work of four imaginative artists. Shiela Hale builds with books taking her inspiration from nature; Chris Perry regards books as sculptural objects; Andrew Sovjani expands the boundaries of books’ content or physical nature using photography and engineering to create works that stretch nature’s boundaries; and Erin Walrath transforms recycled books to alter the original print messages into visually expansive new contexts.

All rely on different aspects of books as the basis of their art. Commonplace parts of books contribute to the artists’ expressions outside of the words supplied by the original authors.

Leslee Asch and Kira Albinsky have curated another interesting and thought provoking selection for the Greenwich Library’s Flinn Gallery. Not By The Book is a whimsical take on books, delving into what they truly are, how beautiful they are, and what books actually mean to people. The exhibition also takes a look at the materiality of books, blending them in with other objects and using them as props.

This exhibition also signals the joyful reopening of the Flinn Gallery to guests after COVID-19 and library renovation. It is also the return of three-dimensional artwork to the space after several two-dimensional exhibitions.

Not By The Book truly is a celebration of books, an apt exhibition given the Gallery’s location. The four artists stretch the limits of our imagination by making us look at books in vivid new ways. This is the perfect subject matter for the Flinn Gallery’s reopening- Not By The Book is not an exhibition you’ll want to miss.

The show will run until December 8, 2021. The Flinn Gallery is located on the second floor of the Greenwich Library, 101 West Putnam Avenue. Gallery hours are Monday-Saturday 10-5, Thursday 10-8, Sunday 1-5. For more information visit:

Gallery Events:
Sunday, October 24, 2:00 pm – Artist Talk with Erin Walrath and Andrew Sovjani
Sunday, November 14, 2:00 pm – Artist Talk with Shiela Hale and Chris Perry

Related Books from the Greenwich Library’s Collection:
Art Made From Books: Altered, Sculpted, Carved, Transformed by Laura Heyenga, 2013

500 Handmade Books, Volume 1: Inspiring Interpretations of A Timeless Form, by Suzanne JE Tourtillott, 2008

Folded Book Art: 35 Beautiful Projects to Transform your Books, Create Cards, Display Scenes, Decorations, Gifts, and More by Clare Youngs, 2019

The Art of the Fold: How to Make Innovative Books and Paper Structures by Heidi Kyle, 2018

Re-bound : Creating Handmade Books From Recycled and Repurposed Materials by Jeannine Stein, Jeannine, 2009

Shiela Hale is a self-professed “lover of books.” Drawn to their form and content, she makes books, alters books, and builds with books. The natural world and contemporary issues also inspire her. A sense of urgency motivates her work de ella now, communicating her concern about the use and misuse of language, the inaccessibility of knowledge, and other pressing issues of today.

Chris Perry’s designs for a planned art book led him to study bookbinding, and soon the painter was a book artist. Perry’s art explores the properties of water through the medium of constructed and altered books set on pedestals, hung from walls, and suspended from ceilings. A Ridgefield, CT resident, Perry is an active member of the Ridgefield Guild of Artists and currently spearheads its online initiatives as Gallery Coordinator.

Andrew Sovjani fuses his artistic lineage and engineering background with his experiences living in Asia to create transcendent works that blur the line between painting, printmaking, and photography. In his images of him in this exhibition, he draws on the physicality of books and questions the transformation of reading into a mono-sensory experience with the rise of digital media.

Erin Walrath is an assemblage and collage artist living in Roxbury, CT, with a studio in Danbury, CT. Color and texture are central to Walrath’s practice of her. They are her primary focus on her in selecting, deconstructing, and reassembling book covers. As she explains, the goal of her book constructions de ella is “to create a new context where these visual elements, free now from the burden of words, can convey new meaning.”

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