MFA Visual Studies student, Jennifer Wolken, is receiving acclaim as a semi-finalist in the 2020 Minnesota Center of Book Arts (MCBA) Prize, an international artist’s book award.
Jennifer Wolken’s piece, “In anticipation of a rare event…” was chosen as one of the 32 semi-finalists from a field of 158 in this international-juried exhibition, with entries coming in from 18 countries.
“Artist’s books” differ from ordinary books and are better described as works of art presented in the form of a book–with pages and covers. They are usually one-of-a-kind and don’t typically tell a story through typed words.
In her artist’s statement from the MCBA website, Jennifer describes her relationship to books. “I prefer to put the narrative into the form,” she explains, “The concept of book is here, but the story is read in the materials and the way they are put together, rather than through words or illustration on pages.” The narrative Jennifer is communicating in this specific piece represents her 20-year battle with seizures, resulting from chronic illness.
The concept of her book was conceived as a response to the 20th anniversary of her first seizure. “Since the first one happened when I was 19-years-old, this meant that I had lived more years with seizures than I had without,” shares Jennifer, “And I was feeling emotional about this milestone. Those years also represent my entire adult life.”
There are 14,612 leaves in her book, representing one leaf per day–from her first seizure to the 20th anniversary. The spine bears the only text displayed within or on the book; it reads, “I have dramatically altered my life in anticipation of a rare event.” Among those leaves, there have been 14 seizures, which she describes as “fairly rare.” Through all the days elapsed, “less than one percent of them included a seizure, which is ironic for the influence it wields on me,” reflects Jennifer. You can see Jennifer’s submission, as well as many others on the MCBA Prize website.
Vote now to support Jennifer as she continues her journey to the People’s Book Art Award, an additional competition where the public chooses the winner. Voting will close January 10, 2021, and the winner will be announced on January 18!