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"Sondra Sherman: Found Subjects" exhibition runs at Hunterdon Art Museum
Sondra Sherman, Newberry Diary.

CLINTON, NJ.- You can’t judge a book by its cover, especially if Sondra Sherman has worked on it.

Sherman uses the books in her sizeable library to inspire a piece of jewelry she creates. She carves hollows into the pages and places a unique piece of jewelry inspired by the subject of each book into that empty space. For instance, “Julia Newberry’s Diary,” a remarkable journal written by a young Chicago socialite between 1869 and 1872, contains a stunning brooch nestled within the hollowed out pages of the tome that served as its inspiration.

Viewers can discover Sherman’s work in her solo exhibition “Found Objects” which will run at the Hunterdon Art Museum from Jan. 12 to March 9.

Books in the exhibition rest on white-washed custom-designed library lecterns, evoking the atmosphere of a rare book room. Each item of jewelry becomes a singular piece of art that is enhanced as a “found subject” because it highlights an idea or theme of the book.

The idea for “Found Subjects” came to Sherman one day when she was packing boxes of books for a cross-country move.

“All jewelry becomes a form or element of portraiture, and in ‘Found Subjects’ the book and jewelry piece came to reflect the imaginary reader, author or wearer,” she said.

But her inspiration also presented its challenges. “What 'seemed like a good idea at the time' turned into..."What was I thinking?" I have continually followed curiosity, and sought new challenges over multiple series of work, but responding to individual books of varied character in a form particular to each came to feel like slightly schizophrenic creative acrobatics. I could have made a series of works for each book,” Sherman said.

Sherman started out collecting old books to read. One evening she decided to reorganize her library based on the color and sizes of the books.

“This ‘Pantone-ian’ organization was a late-night inspiration as I observed the visual noise of the bookshelves might be quieted down if color order ruled over subject or title,” Sherman notes. After this reorganization, “binding color, typeface and imprints entered my awareness, creating a sort of poetry in combination with odd phrases of title. I then began to collect books with no intent to read them, only for how a cover or title resonated with me, and maybe on occasion, to enhance a color field in my bookshelf composition.”

Sherman is Associate Professor of Art – Jewelry and Metalwork at San Diego State University. She was born in Philadelphia and attended Tyler School of Art at Temple University before receiving her MFA from the Akademie der Bildenden Kunste in Munich, Germany.

Sherman has been the recipient of numerous awards including a Tiffany Foundation Emerging Artists Fellowship and a Fulbright grant. Her work is in the permanent collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Arts and Design, the Racine Art Museum, the Renwick Gallery-National Museum of American Art of the Smithsonian Institution, the Rhode Island School of Design Museum, and the City Museum of Turnov, Czech Republic.

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