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Work Samples

Sure of Heart

Sure of Heart - Book Art
Book opened to show first two stanzas of the poem, "Sure of Heart," and the embroidered organs within the plastic rib cage.

All six birds

Common yellowthroat, ovenbird, wood thrush, brown creeper, American woodcock, black and white warbler

Our Blood Holds Secrets

The underside of the horseshoe crab. The "book lungs" pull back to reveal a poem about the crabs as living fossils. The legs and tail move freely. Made in 2013. More on the book here: http://kineticprose.com/2013/04/22/living-fossil-book/

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About Jenny

Jenny O'Grady likes to keep her poems to herself so she can make them into little book sculptures made of beans and tape and fabric and whatever else she fancies at the moment. For several years, she taught book arts as an adjunct professor in the University of Baltimore's Creative Writing and Publishing Arts MFA program, where she earned her MFA in 2006. By day, she writes for UMBC. Jenny is editor of The Light Ekphrastic (www.thelightekphrastic.com), an online literary journal that pairs... more

Sure of Heart

This book is contained within the rib cage and organs of plastic, thread and paper, with a poem that calls to the purpose of the body's most complicated machines. I started this in spring of 2016 as a challenge of form -- the body as a sort of gate-style coptic bind -- but found it came together emotionally after my husband underwent heart surgery later in the year. As I watched the echocardiograms, I marveled at the unknown landscape of machines working away for purposes they don't even understand.

Wearable Books

These are a few examples of books I've made that can technically be worn on the body.

  • Smart Watch

    A play on the Apple Watch made with paper and polystyrene plastic, this book contains a short poem about the parts of life (heart, mind, etc.) the watch might "track" for you, along with illustrations of those life icons. This book was a part of the "Beyond the Margins" display at Loyola University in 2016.
  • Detail - Smart Watch

    A play on the Apple Watch made with paper and polystyrene plastic, this book contains a short poem about the parts of life (heart, mind, etc.) the watch might "track" for you, along with illustrations of those life icons. This book was a part of the "Beyond the Margins" display at Loyola University in 2016.
  • SmartWatch.pdf

    Text of "Smart Watch" poem.
    PDF icon SmartWatch.pdf
  • Good Morning, My Eye

    This wearable eyeglasses book contains a haiku: Good morning, my eye Lashes, lenses, eager blink: Everything is yours. 2012. More here: http://kineticprose.com/2012/08/12/good-morning-my-eye/
  • Good Morning, My Eye

    This wearable eyeglasses book contains a haiku: Good morning, my eye Lashes, lenses, eager blink: Everything is yours.
  • Paper Bird Earrings

    Paper pamphlet-stitched bird earrings, just for fun, for the opening of Lynne Parks' Unfriendly Skies show at Goucher, which featured my collection of folded paper birds, “Six Birds: Unsung/Sung."

Six Birds: Unsung/Sung

This work explores the legacy of lost birdsong through book art forms. Each of the six books represents a commonly lost Baltimore bird. When the book is closed, the bird appears to be dead and devoid of color; when its pages are opened, the bird comes alive through colorful paper popups and poetry that reveal secrets of the voices lost to the lights.

These were shown as part of Lynne Parks' group show Unfriendly Skies: Birds, Buildings, and Collisions exhibits at Goucher College and George Mason University in 2015.

Tin Drum Doll Books

This trio of fabric book dolls is based on poems I’ve written about characters in the Günter Grass novel The Tin Drum. They represent three generations: Anna Bronski (the grandmother); Agnes Matzerath (the mother); and Oskar (the son, and the book's protagonist).

I've tried to make the physical experience of reading each poem doll mirror an aspect of the doll's character, and also somewhat intrusive -- as each poem touches on private, uncomfortable moments of their lives. You must lift a skirt, or unzip a dress, or unbutton suspenders to read their stories.

You can hear each poem and see the dolls in action by viewing the attached video.

More at http://kineticprose.com/2012/12/06/tin-drum-update-the-trio-is-complete/

Our Blood Holds Secrets

This "living fossil" book sculpture is made mainly from paper bags, eyelets and glue. A poem is hidden within the horseshoe crab's book gills -- one stanza per segment. The legs, tail and gills move, as do the front and middle sections of "carapace." You can read more about the project here: http://kineticprose.com/2013/04/22/living-fossil-book/.

  • Our Blood Holds Secrets

    The underside of the horseshoe crab. The "book lungs" pull back to reveal a poem about the crabs as living fossils. The legs and tail move freely. Made in 2013. More on the book here: http://kineticprose.com/2013/04/22/living-fossil-book/
  • Our Blood Holds Secrets

    The underside of the horseshoe crab. The "book lungs" pull back to reveal a poem about the crabs as living fossils. The legs and tail move freely. Made in 2013. More on the book here: http://kineticprose.com/2013/04/22/living-fossil-book/

Homing

Homing is a book made completely of fabric, with hand-embroidered text. The feathers, or “pages,” tack to the body of the bird with red buttons. When opened, they reveal a poem that reads forward and backward, depending on which side of the bird you’re on, to represent the bird’s migration from north to south and back.

Poem text:

north says
it is time
all that you own
tucked neatly within
homing
south says

south says
it is time
all that you own
tucked neatly within
homing
north says

Book Art Projects - 2005 through 2014

I have made many, many books of poems, paper, fabric and other materials. These are a few of my favorites.

  • Judy/Madeleine-depths-of-madness-avoidance-parachute-doll

    This is a double-ended parachute doll built around two characters in the movie Vertigo. Pictured is Madeleine. The parachute keeps them from actually dying. 2012. More at: http://kineticprose.com/2012/12/03/tyvek-and-vertigo/
  • Origin Story: Paola

    Portrait book featuring the image and a poem about a local art student. Her head opens up to reveal coptic-bound pages. Made in 2014. More here: http://kineticprose.com/2014/09/21/pop-up-portrait-of-paola/
  • Shark Book

    Shark Book is made from binder board and paper, and opens mid-way into a coptic-bound book that reveals a set of scary shark teeth! Made in 2014. More about this online at http://kineticprose.com/2014/06/22/falling-behind-catching-up/.
  • Overdue

    This book was made using discarded library card catalogue cards from UMBC's Albin O. Kuhn Library. The hand-made box opens to reveal a drawer of pop-out cards. It is decorated with dates from an authentic library date stamp. The book was accepted into the AOK Library's Special Collections, bringing the cards full-circle as artifacts. 2011. More here: http://kineticprose.com/books/overdue/
  • Window Washer

    This edition of 50 "magic" books was inspired by the vision of a man inside a church who was cleaning the large stained glass windows. When opened fully, it reveals a paint-by-number Jesus. Recipients of the book were invited to color the book and send me photos of their work. 2011. More here: http://kineticprose.com/books/window-washer/
  • Good Morning, My Eye

    This wearable eyeglasses book contains a haiku: Good morning, my eye Lashes, lenses, eager blink: Everything is yours. 2012. More here: http://kineticprose.com/2012/08/12/good-morning-my-eye/
  • And, Afterward...

    I contributed a spread to And, Afterward, a collaborative book project. 2011. More at: http://kineticprose.com/books/and-afterward/
  • But all she believes in...

    This is a coptic-bound book made with paper and pulled into a circle (and tied that way) to resemble a hot air balloon. The paper is colored with sky-like watercolors, and there's a poem inside based on a line from one of Chris Toll's poems. Beneath it hangs a shrinky dink basket and daydreaming girl. Made in 2014. More at http://kineticprose.com/2014/06/23/but-all-she-believes-in/
  • Deadline

    Deadline is made of corrugated cardboard, Sculpey clay, paint, a long matchstick, packing tape and white xerox paper. It unrolls to reveal a poem of the same name. 2005.
  • Rainbow Sculpey Book

    This book's cover is made of yellow Sculpey clay and is only one-inch square. The exposed bind signatures open to reveal a rainbow of pages. 2012. More at: http://kineticprose.com/2012/03/11/a-bit-of-spring-cheer/

Autobiography

Autobiography is a book made with plastic freezer bags, cotton thread, binder board and baby lima beans. Each bean has been inscribed with a word, allowing the poem to flow freely and change within the book. The center bean is blank, representing the author’s uncertainty about motherhood. This is an edition of five. This book was included in the 2009 Bind-O-Rama on Philobiblon.com, the Book Arts Web.

  • Autobiography

    Detail shot of book interior.
  • Autobiography

    Inside of book, bean poem, hand sewn into plastic.
  • Autobiography

    Front cover of hand sewn poem book, with title made of lima beans sewn into plastic.

The Light Ekphrastic

The Light Ekphrastic is a quarterly online ekphrasis journal that has paired writers and visual artists of all types to create new pieces based on previous work since November 2009. Many contributors are from the Baltimore-D.C. area, but others come from as far away as Canada, Australia and Germany.

The Light Ephrastic paired with LED Baltimore in March 2015 to curate The Baltimore Ekphrasis Project, through which we paired 66 artists and writers from the Baltimore area to create new work that was displayed on the LED Art Board next to Penn Station, as well as in a special online issue of TLE. A reading/pop-up art show was held at UB, with more than 100 guests in attendance.

Photos below attempt to show how this process works, but it's much better to visit the real thing at http://www.thelightekphrastic.com.

We held our very first show of pairings of art and writing at the David Mikow Gallery in Catonsville in February 2013, and again at the same location in February 2014, both times bringing together artists and writers who had previously only met online to discuss their processes in responding to each others' work.

  • The Light Ekphrastic

    Part III: The finale of a poem, and the artist's new response to it.
  • The Light Ekphrastic

    Part II: Poetic response to artist's work, then part of the poet's original submission to TLE.
  • The Light Ekphrastic

    Part 1: Top of page, a visual artist's submitted work.
  • TLE Gallery Show, February 2013

    The Light Ekphrastic held its very first non-virtual appearance with a show at The David Mikow Art Gallery in Catonsville. The show had a special focus on contributors from UMBC and surrounding community and featured an informal discussion by artist/writer pairs about the ekphrastic processes they used to create new works inspired by the works of their partners.
  • The Light Ekphrastic

    Screen shot of The Light Ekphrastic home page, August 2012 issue, featuring writers and visual artists who have been paired to create new work.

The Baltimore Ekphrasis Project

The Baltimore Ekphrasis Project was a collaboration between LED Baltimore and my online journal, The Light Ekphrastic. I chose sixty-six Baltimore-area writers and artists to create new work inspired by the work of their partners. Final written works were presented as excerpts on top of art on the LEDBaltimore Billboard in Station North, and in full in a special online issue of The Light Ekphrastic: http://thelightekphrastic.com/led/. As editor of TLE, I created the slides for the billboard and the full online edition, and organized and hosted a reading and pop-up art show at the University Baltimore.

Connect with Jenny

Jenny's Curated Collection

This artist has not yet created a curated collection.