Rachael Gootnick

Rachael Gootnick

I have loved books, and art, ever since I was a child, but I never could have imagined I’d end up here, living my life as a book artist. Life is a collection of chapters after all, and art is the method of expression. We don’t know how the story goes until we’ve experienced it, written it.

Pictured: Vol. 1&2, mixed-media, 6”x6”,  2021

I operate Just Terrific Book Arts, a bookbinding and book arts studio based in Rochester NY. I surround myself with books every day; some small, some large, some old, some new. Some for others, and some for myself. From miniature books made from repurposed materials, to 100+ year old books in need of repair, my work puts emphasis on sustainability. And not only in a practical sense. My artist books and mixed-media pieces are expressions of our shared existence, how we sustain the aspects of ourselves that make us human, and reflect both the relationships we hold with others, as well as the one we nurture with ourselves.

Pictured: Hang onto Hope, mixed-media, 12”x12”, 2022

Life: moments strung together, some seemingly ordinary, some more profound, but they all add up to be our own human experience, our reality. That is the same for everyone, regardless of gender, race, class; we all breathe, we are all made of cells, we all bleed. These are universal truths, and something we can harness to unify us all.

Pictured: Breath is not a Privilege, accordion book, 6”x48”, 2020

Another universal truth, is that there is no other time but now, the present moment. The past is gone, and the future is not yet here. And unless there is an alternate dimension I have not discovered yet, time is measured the same for everyone.

Pictured: In the Transition Zone, mixed-media, 7”x7”, 2023

I learned of the Parable of the Trapeze (an essay from Warriors of the Heart) by Danaan Parry, at the crux of one of my many life chapters. It brought me so much comfort, and has continued to stick with me throughout many transitions, like when sadness of the past washes over me, or the fear of the future makes me freeze. It is a reminder that between two moments, the then, and the later, is the now. And it is in the now, that true living exists and is not to be rushed through. It’s often in that liminal space, filled with uncertainty, that we are truly able to experience real humanness.

Pictured: In the Transition Zone, mixed-media, 7”x7”, 2023

In the Transition Zone, a mixed media book art piece, is my reflection of this. Of how each phase of life, each transition we experience, can only be reached by letting go of the past, to make room for the future. That we must embrace the liminal space between, embrace the uncertainty of the unknown, and take the leap forward. That within that space and time, when we reach the future, we can grow our self-trust and strength, in knowing we can repeat this process throughout our lifetime.

Pictured: process images of In the Transition Zone

Like most of my work, this piece includes repurposed materials and tiny books. I believe that a small scale can hold great power, forcing the viewer to take a closer look, both with their eyes, and also within. I cherish the idea of using otherwise unloved, unused materials, to create something brand new, with fresh meaning. Each line of the original poem is contained within a miniature accordion book, created with leather scraps, cardboard, and decades-old gold foil, made to represent the many chapters, the many books, that make up our collective lives.

Pictured: original poem, “In the Transition Zone

My hope with this piece is that viewers can take solace in the notion that all of us share this experience, the leap, the taking of the chance, of making the decision to move forward into the future. No matter what chapter of life each of us are currently writing, I hope this can serve as a reminder, that if we are all human—despite any differences—we can show each other understanding for whatever chapter, whatever moment of life we are experiencing.

Pictured: Rachael Gootnick, of Just Terrific Book Arts studio

www.justterrific.com
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Small Works 2023 includes 219 works of art by 204 artists from 29 states and runs through Friday, December 22, 2023.

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Closed 7/28 through 8/3:

We will be closed to the public Friday, July 28 through Thursday, August 4 as we install our next exhibition, Inspired By Nature. Please join us for the opening reception on Friday, August 4 from 5 to 8pm!