Illustrator Isobelle Ouzman upcycles would-be discarded books into sculptural works of art. She cuts back the pages and draws nature scenes that together, create an alluring new narrative. The primarily black-and-white images have spots of color added to them, and they hearken the viewer into this special place.Ouzman calls her creations Altered Books.
Using an X-acto knife, Micron pens, watercolor paint, and a lot of love, Ouzman breathes new life into these objects. “Every book that I alter was found by a dumpster in Seattle, a recycling bin, a thrift store, or was given to me by someone who no longer wants it,” she writes. “Rather than have these discarded books sit out in the rain or in some store to gather dust, I’m striving to make good use of them. I love books very much and would never carve into one that was valuable. I just want to give them a new life and a second chance to mean something again.”
Barbara Wildernboar, a South African photographer and sculptor, creates a series of altered books that are visually reminiscent of organic, sea-like organisms. Some emulate the visually striking legs of a star fish, others are reminiscent of wild, but beautiful jellyfish- but most of her work imitate the very beginning of any type of live being, a very basic but important part of life as it is- the shape of an atom or a mitochondrion found in eukaryotic cells.
Wildernboar strictly uses books that she buys in flea markets while she’s abroad; usually, she uses books that are dated and redundant- however, there seems to be a pattern to the kind of books she picks- almost all, if not all, have to do with earth/physical science or biology. This specific detail could or could not be relevant, but the ways in which she shapes and manipulates the paper within the book tells us otherwise. She states the following about this speculation:
Although my work has strong ecological themes, I do not see myself as an activist for environmental change, nor is the body of work to be seen as a green campaign. It is rather a reflection on my personal response to climate and environmental issues that can often leave one feeling overwhelmed and distressed.