Claire Dannenbaum is a librarian and artist living in Eugene, Oregon. Much of her work of the last two decades has explored the conceptual life of books through manipulation, destruction, reconstruction, and collage. Her more recent work (especially since 2020) employs various collage techniques: layering images and/or text with encaustic wax, solar cyanotype, and other methods. Claire’s artwork has been exhibited in Massachusetts, Oregon, California, Washington, and Rhode Island. Previously, Claire worked in film and her film work has screened internationally. She has participated in public panels, won several awards, and has films in university media libraries on both coasts.
For a professional resume related to librarianship, please contact Claire directly.
In this recent work I explore the conceptual life of the book.
My artwork is constructed from fiction, holy books, guidebooks, instructional manuals, and all types of books recycled from thrift stores, used book stores, and library book sales. In these pieces, I rearrange texts, disrupt, reveal, or obscure the narrative and the authority posed by the printed word. I use the graphic quality of text on the page to create a layering of visual narratives. I have purposefully flattened the book so that it can be appreciated as a vehicle for associations, without even being read.
For me there are many compelling contradictions in books. They are mass-produced yet precious; they are sacred, they are pulp. They can carry profound personal connotations as we carry our experiences into reading. Books can be rare, lost, digital, or dog-eared, and still convey loaded meanings and conventions that fuel daydreams, revolution, the social imagination, and far-reaching historical dogmas.
As a librarian I have, quite literally, built my professional life on the book form. I see books as social agents: of inquiry, of personal fulfillment, of self-determination, and fundamental to the very fabric of knowing. Despite an onslaught of data, and routine access to trillions of bytes of information, there remains an enigmatic resonance to the book and the written page. Reading is a kind of magic one performs on oneself. Every act of opening a book poses potential transformations: of heroic escapes, of redrawn borders, of ecstatic pleasure, or a reconstructed sense of oneself in the world. In my work I explore how the book is both inanimate and a living organism.
MLIS University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC
MA Visual Ethnography, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA
BA Visual Arts, Antioch College, Yellow Springs, OH
“Building Collage,” Architecture Department, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Solo exhibit, Noisette, Eugene, OR.
“Artworks on/with Paper,” Roll-up Photo Studio + Gallery, Portland, OR.
“10th Anniversary Show,” 12×16 Gallery, Portland, OR.
“Unhinged: Book Art on the Cutting Edge,” Whatcom Museum, Bellingham, WA. (September 26, 2015 – January 3, 2016).
Glyph Cafe and Gallery, Portland, OR.
Claire Dannenbaum”Ex Libris” and Pat Bognar “Holga Adventures,” 12×16 Gallery, Portland, OR.
Celebration Foundation — Grant to artist.
“Mother of God,” Gigantic Gallery, Portland, OR.
“Unbound: a National Survey of Book Art,” Bedford Gallery, Lesher Center for the Arts, Walnut Creek, CA.