FAU artist-in-residence crafts books by hand

Miranda Schumes

Paula Gourley has spent the last year handcrafting copies of her latest book, A Visit to Cross Creek, in a workshop tucked away on the fourth floor of the S.E. Wimberly Library on FAU’s Boca campus.

Last January, Gourley came to FAU from Eugene, Oregon after being selected as the Helen M. Salzberg Artist in Residence for the 2013 spring semester.  Since then, Gourley has patiently collected fallen palm fronds around campus and made multiple 287-mile trips to the Hawthorne, Fla. home of author Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings for her project.

Gourley received a $3,000 stipend and office in the Jaffe Center for Book Arts as part of her residency, which she is using to produce the book. Her latest work predominantly uses photographs to showcase the home and life of Rawlings, who died in 1953.

“I was curious about the author, whose book I had read in junior high,” Gourley said about why she chose the project.

Each time Gourley visited, she felt that Rawlings’ spirit still lingered there. “I sensed the presence of the person who lived there,” Gourley said.  “I’m not talking about a ghost, but a life that was lived in a place that has been kept.”

Brooke Frank, a junior studio art major, worked alongside Gourley as a student assistant. There she learned the grueling process of creating the book entirely by hand.

“Paula’s work here has really brought a stronger emphasis to the fine craft in books,” Frank said. While working at the Jaffe Center, Gourley has appreciated the opportunity to teach them how she makes the books.

“People come and kind of peek in the glass doors, and so I’ve seen them and invited them in, and people have been printing on the press with me,” said Gourley.

Frank feels that Gourley’s ambition to educate students about her book has raised more interest in the bookmaking process.

“She’s been really engaging for students in this area and her work here has really involved a lot of people in these processes,” said Frank.

Gourley hopes that her use of old technology will instill curiosity and inspire students to pursue an old craft without the use of modern technology.

“There’s a vibrancy to and a beauty in creating something yourself and doing that hard labor,” said Gourley.

Gourley will be at the Jaffe Center, handcrafting copies of her book until August 22.