Feedback: One Artist Questions the Place of Art

by Anna Brache

When examining a piece of art, a question often comes to mind:  “What does this art say to you?” Whether it is a feeling of sadness and longing through the face of a solitary figure, or the simplicity and beauty captured in a scene of nature, a work of art usually has something to tell us. But how often does it have something to ask us?

Artist Lindsey Landfried has been working on a unique style of art that explores this concept: how art can be used as a means of beginning a conversation. The pieces she creates are called liporello books, which derive from a traditional style of folding books. She draws a continuous loop on a piece of folded paper, in the end creating intricate designs and optical allusions with a variety of vibrant colors. The designs the loops create “resemble binary codes,” she says. Landfried became interested in this art form when she visited Morocco, where she observed women weaving intensely intricate and elaborate ceramics. Landfried says that this “tense, active labor had a lot of poetry involved in it.”

She became interested in the idea of “contemporary alienation.” Part of her goal in making these books is to explore “how we are looking at things differently when spending so much time looking at 2-D screens.” Landfried, originally from Greenville, Penn., and a graduate from Penn State, recently spent a year in Berlin, Germany, where she had a grant from the government to further study art. She has been making liporello books since 2010.

Rather than having a predetermined number of folds for each book, Landfried lets the “folds react to the arcs.” The sizes of her books vary, but the biggest ones currently in the Millsaps Lewis Art Gallery are 6 feet by 8 feet and took 60 hours to make. Another distinctive aspect of these art pieces is that they show the entire process of their creation. According to Landfried, “in drawings you don’t see all the layers—there’s no erasing in the final product; here, you can see all the layers.”

Landfried often works to have her pieces shown in “places where contemporary art is not part of contemporary culture.” She believes that “eliciting a response is challenging and inspiring.” In an effort to engage her audience, she uses the “visual communication” aspect of her pieces to pose a specific question to her viewers. Landfried explains that there are “lots of artists that set out to say something [but] my work is so verbal it sets out to ask something.” When people come to view Landfried’s work, she wants to do more than just tell them what to feel. She “hopes that, if even for a second, [the art] elicits a response in conversation.”

So take a few moments and come see Lindsey Landfried’s exhibit at the Millsaps Lewis Art Gallery.  Her pieces will be on display until Dec. 11. You can learn how to make your very own liporello book in a workshop taught by Lindsey herself, held at 11 a.m. Nov. 22 at the Purple Word Center for Book and Paper Arts (140 Wesley Ave. in the Midtown Arts District). Discover new meanings in art as you find out not what it has to tell you, but what it has to ask you.

Go, be inspired, and begin the conversation in art.