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Rape of the Sabine Women

Miriam  Schaer

1990
16 x 12 x 3 in

The need to tell stories goes back as far as anyone can remember. When the story of the hunt was discovered on the walls of the caves of Lascaux, it proved not only that those images had survived 10,000 years, but that the drive to record and communicate the reality of our lives is at least as ancient. As is the desire to create the vessels in which such stories live and speak. The glyphs, characters, pictographs and signs etched onto Mesopotamian cylinders, carved into Egyptian scarabs, applied to Chinese scrolls and painted on the pages of medieval manuscripts are only a few of the ways storytellers have chosen to preserve their tales. The human story reveals itself through a vast library of books and booklike structures. This is the romance of the book -- and what my books are about. They are stories contained in forms so suitably shaped and expressive that the experience of turning their pages jolts the skeptical reader with the pleasures of unexpected meaning and sensation. In form, my books are kinetic sculptures created with texts, images, papers, fabrics, and, often, the objects that inspired the questions my stories seek to answer. "The Rape of the Sabine Women" and "The Rape of the Daughters of Leucippus" were inspired by the relentless, voyeuristic coverage of rape victims in the media. Who were the women I these painting? Did they fight back? How does our society internalize images of rape? How has the depiction of rape in the great paintings of earlier eras affected our views today? Many question the value of creating unique books in a mass-produced, computer-saturated society. Yet even the vast bodies of information computers print out are finally contained within books and booklike structures, some real, some virtual, a new and metaphorical architecture of files, folders, volumes, archives and the like. Sometimes I try to imagine a world without books. But I can only imagine it as a story told by a book. A single, unique book I suddenly wish to make.

©2013 Center for Book Arts, Incorporated 1974

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