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Patricia Dahlman | Big Open Book | Art Wall on Third Exhibition Series


January 12th, 2015 - April 1st, 2015

The Art and Picture Collections at Mid-Manhattan Library present Big Open Book, a site-specific exhibition of a soft sculpture of an art history book, created by artist Patricia Dahlman. It is made from canvas, fabric, ribbon, thread, wire, and stuffing. The sculpture contains reproductions of the painting Just in Time by Elizabeth Murray and the painting Weeping Woman by Pablo Picasso. Big Open Book was created in appreciation of public art libraries and of two very influential artists. The exhibition is also a celebration of the beauty and vitality of Artists' Books on a large scale.

Big Open Book; 2014; 58" x 83" x 8"; canvas, fabric, ribbon, thread, wire, and stuffing
Big Open Book; 2014; 58" x 83" x 8"; canvas, fabric, ribbon, thread, wire, and stuffing

Curator Margaret Mathews-Berenson joins Patricia Dahlman for An Artist Dialogue series event, on Saturday February 21 at 2:30 p.m. inside the Corner Room. 

Art Wall on Third exhibition series is curated by Arezoo Moseni.

Artist Statement 

On making Big Open Book, I thought about art books in libraries and how they were essential to my development as an artist. I went to college in Dayton, Ohio and there was not a great deal of actual art to see. I spent a large amount of time in libraries looking at art books, trying to figure out what to do in art as well as how to be an artist. 

Big Open Book is a site-specific work made with fabric, thread, and wire. It is a sculpture of a book about art history. I wanted the work to be clearly visible and recognizable when one steps off the elevator and entering The Art Collection at Mid-Manhattan Library.

The open book depicts two artists’ works, Elizabeth Murrays Just in Time and Pablo Picassos Weeping Woman. I copied and transformed the work Just in Time using fabric and thread and could see clearly the influence of cubism on Murray’s work. Murray states that during the time she made this work, she fell in love with her future husband Bob Holman. Because of the complexities of Weeping Woman it took me weeks to copy and transform that work. Picasso made Weeping Woman around the same time as he made Guernica. This was a time of great suffering and sorrow. I have spent many hours researching, looking and now copying Murray’s and Picasso’s work and they both have had a big impact on my own work. 

This opportunity to make an artwork, for Art Wall on Third exhibition series, has allowed me to reconnect with my experience at looking at art books in libraries and their help and influence in my development as an artist.

Patricia Dahlman working on her sculpture Big Open Book
Patricia Dahlman working on her sculpture Big Open Book

Patricia Dahlman is a New York City area artist and works mainly with fabric. She was born in Cincinnati, Ohio and studied art at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio and Yale University Summer School of Art and Music in Norfolk, Connecticut. Dahlman is a recipient of a New Jersey Printmaking Fellowship at Rutgers Center for Innovative Print and Paper, two Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation Fellowships to attend Vermont Studio Center and Virginia Center for Creative Arts, a Puffin Foundation Grant Award, a Yaddo Residency and a Gallery Aferro Studio Residency. She has exhibited her work throughout the United States including exhibitions at George Adams Gallery in New York, Bedford Gallery in Walnut Creek, California; Jersey City Museum in Jersey City, New Jersey; and The Center For Book Arts in New York. Her solo exhibition The Art and Science of Happiness: Patricia Dahlman was held as part of the Dana Women Artist Series, at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey in 2010.