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Work Samples

Flight Pattern (2021)

book in the shape of a lightning bug
Flight Pattern (2021). This lightning bug book's wings open up to reveal a hand-drawn map of the artist's childhood farm, where many lightning bugs were captured, and the following haiku: With eyes uplifted / hands clap, catching all they can; / We all seek the light. Photo by Marlayna Demond.

Sure of Heart (2019)

Sure of Heart (2019)
Book opened to show first two stanzas of the poem, "Sure of Heart," and the embroidered organs within the plastic rib cage.

Collection of Face Books

face book art
My collection of Face Books in various states of openness. Clockwise from top left: "Origin Story: Paola," 2014; "I Don't Remember Asking You," 2016; "You Are What You Tweet," 2018; "Such a Miracle," 2021; "My Head is Filled with Butterflies," 2022. Made with a variety of materials, including board, paper, yarn, thread, Tyvek, Sculpey, and candy wrapper trash. Photo by Marlayna Demond.

Detail of Panel Four

Detail from panel four of my half of Different Lives, One Shared Spine, showing embroidered sorghum plans in rows from the farm where I grew up. The rows are made from newspaper stories I wrote at my hometown paper during the summers in college. This was a project co-created by myself and artist Lenett Partlow-Myrick, where we each made four accordion panels in response to prompts about our shared lives.

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About Jenny

Baltimore County

Jenny O'Grady's picture
Jenny O'Grady makes book sculptures out 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 since 2010 has paired more than 400 writers and visual artists to create new... more

Flight Pattern

This lightning bug book's wings open up to reveal a hand-drawn map of the artist's childhood farm, where many lightning bugs were captured, and the following haiku: With eyes uplifted / hands clap, catching all they can; / We all seek the light.

The book is made of paper bag papier mache, embroidered with cotton thread, and painted with acrylic paint and glow in the dark paint.

Face Books

If a person was a book, what would it tell you? These small books, which take the shape of people's heads, hold stories and poems about the subject inside, and open a variety of ways depending on the person.

  • Collection of Face Books

    face book art
    My collection of Face Books in various states of openness. Clockwise from top left: "Origin Story: Paola," 2014; "I Don't Remember Asking You," 2016; "You Are What You Tweet," 2018; "Such a Miracle," 2021; "My Head is Filled with Butterflies," 2022. Made with a variety of materials, including board, paper, yarn, thread, Tyvek, Sculpey, and candy wrapper trash. Photo by Marlayna Demond.
  • Facebooks -- Jenny and Lenett

    Two artist books shaped like faces
    L-R: Such a Miracle (2021) and My Head is Filled With Butterflies (2022), both made with board, paper, yarn, Sculpey, Tyvek, and thread. These are made to resemble myself and my dear artist friend Lenett "Mama Nef" Partlow-Myrick.
  • You Are What You Tweet (2018)

    You Are What You Tweet (2018). This book's head is stuffed with candy and fast food wrappers, and the mouth opens to reveal an accordian book full of tweeted/deleted texts sent by Donald Trump.
  • Such a Miracle (2020-21)

    book in the shape of a head
    Such a Miracle (2020-21) is the latest in my series of people-based books. This one is more autobiographical, featuring a haiku that speaks to the mystifying and hopeful nature of creativity. The haiku goes like this: Such a miracle / synapses stretch, lightning strikes -- brain to pen to here. The book is made primarily of board, paper, thread and yarn with embroidered cursive text.
  • Such a Miracle (2020-21) - Inside

    book in the shape of a head
    Such a Miracle (2020-21) is the latest in my series of people-based books. This one is more autobiographical, featuring a haiku that speaks to the mystifying and hopeful nature of creativity. The haiku goes like this: Such a miracle / synapses stretch, lightning strikes -- brain to pen to here. The book is made primarily of board, paper, thread and yarn with embroidered cursive text.
  • I Don't Remember Asking You

    This face book contains a man-splain-y sonnet titled "I don't remember asking you"
  • 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/
  • I Don’t Remember Asking You & Origin Story_ Paola.pdf

    Poetry contained in "I Don't Remember Asking You" and "Origin Story: Paola"

    PDF icon I Don’t Remember Asking You & Origin Story_ Paola.pdf

Different Lives, One Shared Spine

For our shared book arts show, Dos-a-Dos II, at the Richard B. Talkin Gallery in 2022, my friend Lenett "Mama Nef" Partlow-Myrick and I co-created a piece as the focal point of the room -- with each of our works displayed on one side of a large accordian structure. Early on in the pandemic, as Nef and I talked about the state of the world together, we became closer as friends, and realized that although our lives were very different, we had significant threads in common beyond our shared love of book art. The pieces shown here represent the panels I created around the themes of our relationships with our mothers, our childhoods, our lineage, and the friendship we share, and Lenett created four panels of her own around the same themes. All eight panels were shown together, with mine on one side and Nef's on the other. Together, they represent a love that transcends our art and the culmination of a wonderful creative process we made for ourselves.

I made the background paper for my panels myself out of glue and torn paper bags, and then used embroidery and collage with Xeroxed family photos, my home town newspaper, and other materials to tell my part of the story.

  • All Four Panels of Different Lives, One Shared Spine

    Four paper panels with embroidery, collage, and poetry.
    Different Lives, One Shared Spine: a co-created accordion book by Jenny O'Grady and Lenett Partlow-Myrick. Pictured: four poetry panels created by Jenny O'Grady using embroidery and collage on hand-made paper.
  • Panel One: On Friendship

    Panel One: On my friendship with artist Lenett Partlow-Myrick.
  • Panel Two: On Where I Come From

    Panel Two: On the generations that made me.
  • Panel Three: My Mother

    Panel Three: On the creative and caring influence of my mother.
  • Panel Four: Where I Grew Up

    Panel Four: On the creative spirit of the farm where I grew up.
  • Detail of Panel Four

    Detail from panel four of my half of Different Lives, One Shared Spine, showing embroidered sorghum plans in rows from the farm where I grew up. The rows are made from newspaper stories I wrote at my hometown paper during the summers in college. This was a project co-created by myself and artist Lenett Partlow-Myrick, where we each made four accordion panels in response to prompts about our shared lives.
  • Lenett's Panels

    Lenett's panels, with her personal responses to the same prompts.

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.

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/

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.

Additional Recent Works (2016-2018)

This is a selection of book projects from the last few years, including a number that appeared in the book arts show my friend Lenett Parlow-Myrick put on at the Hamilton Gallery in 2018.

  • Three Studies - Video

    This was for the Amplified Cactus project, through which writers and artists responded to questions. In this case the question was Why am I attracted to stimulation that destabilizes me? My response was Three Studies. Each “study” within the wallet-inspired book is composed of a poem about a moment of destabilization (which slides neatly into the wallet-style construction) and an accompanying chart. The first spread contains a poem about how I chew my thumb ragged when I read. So, the line chart follows the “violence toward thumb” in relation to a thriller story arc.
  • Sea/Sky

    This is a dos-a-dos book, which means you can read it rightside up, or upside down. In one direction, it focuses on SKY, and the clouds and birds you might see there. On the flip side, it focuses on SEA, where the reader sees an underwater seascape. Sea/Sky is made of a variety of fabrics.
  • Three Studies

    Three Studies book
    This was for the Amplified Cactus project, through which writers and artists responded to questions. In this case the question was Why am I attracted to stimulation that destabilizes me? My response was Three Studies. Each “study” within the book is composed of a poem about a moment of destabilization (which slides neatly into the wallet-style construction) and an accompanying chart. The first spread contains a poem about how I chew my thumb ragged when I read. So, the line chart follows the “violence toward thumb” in relation to a thriller story arc.
  • Three Studies - detail

    Three Studies book
    This was for the Amplified Cactus project, through which writers and artists responded to questions. In this case the question was Why am I attracted to stimulation that destabilizes me? My response was Three Studies. Each “study” within the book is composed of a poem about a moment of destabilization (which slides neatly into the wallet-style construction) and an accompanying chart. The first spread contains a poem about how I chew my thumb ragged when I read. So, the line chart follows the “violence toward thumb” in relation to a thriller story arc.
  • Joke Explosion

    Cracker Jack lunchbox art book
    This project is part of Container's Multitudes series, which invites writers and artists to transform the same object into works of visual and literary art. In this series, participants were invited to interpret a vintage metal lunchbox. When I saw my lunchbox for the first time, I was SO excited. I have always loved the packaging for Cracker Jacks -- especially the tiny folded joke prize booklets. I love the little structures, and I adore the fact that the jokes are always terrible.
  • 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.

Recent Poetry

Some of my poems wind up inside books; others do not. This is a selection of several I've written recently for purposes other than my own book binding.

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/
  • 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/
  • 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/
  • Autobiography

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

Connect with Jenny

Jenny's Curated Collection

This artist has not yet created a curated collection.