The Recorder – Visual artists show ‘what a book might be’ at Salmon Falls Gallery

Yoshiko Yap

SHELBURNE FALLS – What happens when you take the idea of what a book is, and put it in the hands of a visual artist? Do you need to have words? Is it bound? Does it have pages that you can turn?

One thing you can count on, is that everything you thought you knew about what a book ‘looks’ like is up for revision. Maybe you just dispense with the book form altogether and the message becomes beautifully crafted handmade pages that hang side by side on a wall telling their own story.

The latest Salmon Falls Gallery exhibit, “Sojourns: Artists’ Books and Handmade Paper,” features innovative book objects, intricate folded artworks, handmade paper paintings, monotypes and collage from seven gathered creatives gathered by lead Belchertown artist Elisa Lanzi. All seven exhibited artists “work with paper, the idea of a book and pure creativity.”

Sojourns can be seen now through Oct. 31 at Salmon Falls Gallery, 1 Ashfield Road in Shelburne Falls. The brick and mortar gallery is open seven days a week 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For further information, go to or call the gallery at 413-625-9833.

“Has there ever been a better time to take a brief respite from the pandemic-triggered feelings of isolation?,” asks Lanzi. “The seven artists in this show invite you to accompany them on a visually appealing sojourn as an antidote to our collective yearning to go and be somewhere else. Taking us to places known and imagined, the exhibit features innovative book objects, intricate folded artworks, handmade paper paintings, monotypes and collage.”

Gallery Director Donna Gates said the exhibit features a diverse group of artists “with just as diverse approaches to their chosen art form.” The Sojourns artists include: Elisa Lanzi, Valerie Carrigan, Fenfolio (Fenneke Wolters-Sinke), Sheryl Jaffe, Marjorie Morgan, Janet Poirrier, and Edda Valborg Sigurðardóttir.

For more information on the exhibit and participating artists, visit

According to a press release from the gallery, Lanzi has been experimenting with printmaking, papermaking and creating books in many different forms for decades. She is a member of the Zea Mays Printmaking Studio in Florence, Massachusetts where she learned non-toxic printmaking techniques and serves on their exhibition committee. Lanzi also teaches papermaking history for the Book Studies program at Smith College in Northampton. Through her years of experience, she has worked with numerous exceptional book, print and paper artists.

“She is just the person Salmon Falls Gallery would want to curate a book arts show,” said Gates. “In 2019 we asked Elisa if she would like to curate such an exhibit, and luckily for us, she said yes.”

Lanzi said she jumped at the chance to help curate this exhibit and asked the participating artists, all of whom are acquaintances of hers from the artists community, to reflect on memories or fantasies of travel. The exhibit, she explained, was “conceived as an antidote to pandemic-triggered feelings of isolation, a brief respite, allowing viewers to take a ‘sojourn’ into the creative during this time when we are still being asked to limit travel and stay safe.”

“I didn’t try to put too much control on the artists,” Lanzi said. “I know them well enough and I know their work, so I knew this would be an incredible conversation among seven artists.”

She simply requested each artist provide three works, including one piece that could be hung on the wall. Many submitted artists’ books as one of their pieces. An artist book, Lanzi explained, is becoming a more popular art form. These pieces are generally interactive, portable, movable and easily shared. Some artists’ books challenge the conventional book format and become sculptural objects, and can be made from all kinds of material.

“Some of the artists are just incredibly inventive about the forms and the textures that they’ve come up with for these artists’ books,” she said. “They offer different ways to tell stories, and you can take people on a journey in a different way than through a flat, two-dimensional work of art.”

Zack DeLuca can be reached at [email protected] or 413-930-4579.

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