Valerie Savarie, Denver-based artist and owner of Valkarie Gallery, finds old and sometimes very tattered books to use as her canvas. She then takes the written story within and reinterprets it into a three dimensional piece by cutting, sewing and painting – creating a multidimensional collage while still leaving the majority of the book intact.
The characters she creates — the inhabitants of the books, as she calls them — are always painted in black and white, which allows them to live in balance within their predominantly black and white (text and page) surroundings. Sometimes, they are animals, sometimes they are more human.
“I am adding another chapter in the lineage of storytelling," says Savarie. "Before we had readily available printed books, stories were communicated verbally and passed on from person to person, with each storyteller adding their own twist. This is my way of passing on that tradition — creating a visual from the written and then allowing the viewer to create their own story from the images and words that they see."
Valerie Savarie shares her three favorite art books:
Harold and the Purple Crayon
by Crockett Johnson
A book filled with art and very few words, this series has greatly influenced me as an artist due to its abundance of art, creativity and storytelling that can be made up by the readers. The main character, Harold, allows his imagination to take control in creating the world around him. Sometimes the worlds he creates are, especially when he lets the purple crayon take a life of its own, scary and challenging but he always manages to find a solution and draw himself out of it. It demonstrates how powerful our imagination can be — both on the positive and negative — and how it can help us solve any problem.
Griffin & Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence
by Nick Bantock
Incredibly well-written with equally, if not surpassingly, stunning art, this interactive book (the first in a series of three) tells the story of two artist who meet through a chance correspondence. Sharing their passion of art and words with one another, their relationship builds through handmade postcards and written letters that travel hundreds of miles. Even with the best laid plans, it seems that physically their paths can not meet. The reader must actively participate in Griffin and Sabine’s world due to the interactive quality of the book which is filled with envelopes attached to the pages where letters wait to be removed and read.
by Edward Gorey
Any and everything by Edward Gorey is a must. His books — sometimes filled only with black and white illustrations — are full of dark, if not macabre, humor. In this collection, one finds picture book tales (no words), short stories and drawings with a one line “description." My favorite is “The Stupid Joke," the story of a young child who decides he will not get out bed and no matter what anyone does or says, he does not budge. Eventually, the bed takes him captive, transforming into a winged beast and deposits the child at a place unknown and he's never seen again. This is another book that allows the imagination to run loose and create its own story. It requires the reader (viewer) to take time and look at the intricate details that are in the illustrations and at the words (when used) as their use tells more than just their face value.