This autumn, as the Vassar campus begins to undergo its yearly change from leafy green Arcadia to the clear white light of Winter, it has undergone another transformation toward transparency through the energies of the internationally acclaimed graphic artist Barbara Beisinghoff. Resident on campus with the filmmaker Eva Wal from September 19 to October 14, Barbara’s campus-wide installation, “When Light Touches Paper,” includes an exhibit of her artist’s books and prints that sprawl between the Van Ingen Art Library and Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center.
It also includes the metamorphosis of campus trees, most notably the great London Plane tree on the Library Lawn, into “Poetrees” of couchéd paper fragments of texts from poets including Paul Celan and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
Trained as an etcher, Beisinghoff’s work has evolved into a sculptural relationship with hand-made paper, upon which she inscribes watermark and water-jet-carved figures that can only be seen with backlighting.
Included in the Art Library portion of her exhibit is her “Room for a Clairvoyant.” This is a space populated by semi-transparent prints with texts derived from the German novelist Christa Wolf’s 1983 novel Cassandra, based on the story of the tragic prophetess of Troy. The showcase of artists’ books in the reading room of the Art Library contains a series of imaginary books from Cassandra’s library, which include stories of contemporary emancipated women, for Beisinghoff explains that “such a wise woman, able to see across time, would have to have had a library. Also included are “Tau Blau” or Dew Blue — a work whose paper is made out of flax grown on her estate near Hannover, and the biographical “Allmannigfaltige,” which features images of six of Goethe’s women inscribed into his color theory.
A film of Barbara’s stay on campus, “Wölbe Dich, Welt” = “Grow Vaulted, World” by Eva Wal is continuously showing in the Room for a Clairvoyant in the Art Library before Mid-Term week.
Barbara will give a gallery talk Thursday October 6 at 5:00 p.m., beginning in the Project Gallery of the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center.
On Wednesday October 5 at noon on WVKR (91.3FM) The Library Cafe, hosted by Art Librarian Thomas Hill, will feature a 45 minute interview with the artist about her artist’s books and etchings, installations and public commissions, and her residency at Vassar College.
On Tuesday October 11 at 5:00 p.m. in the Class of 1951 Reading Room in the Main Library Barbara Beisinghoff wil be participating in a symposium on artists’ books with artist Werner Pfeiffer, Women’s Studio Workshop executive and artist Ann Kalmbach, and Special Collections Librarian Ronald Patkus. A reception will follow.
The residency of Barbara Beisinghoff and Eva Wal is sponsored by the Creative Arts Across the Disciplines initiative, a program funded with a grant from the Andrew W. Melon Foundation. The theme of this year’s residency is “touch.”