Domestic Science

By Nance O'Banion

According to the artist, “Domestic Science is any of the following: the study of functional objects as symbols of human conditions, the contribution of place to meaning, personification of household objects, multiple recipes for multiple meanings, or the knowledge of how to care for your home.” Instructional, visceral, psychological and well-constructed, Nance O’Banion walks us through the steps of this artists’ book’s journey well.

A book in two parts, the first titled Idioms, immediately offers a preface, “Idioms….investigates the effect of context on meaning and explores how images, like words in an idiom, can be combined and presented to communicate ideas which transcend their individual meanings”. Images of house and home are then interposed against a backdrop of commonly defined themes such as, rough house, cat house, home free and home sick. In this, Nance O’Banion has taken us by the hand to show us not all things mean the same to all people. I, myself, couldn’t help but imagine the image of a pair of shoes and the saying, walk a mile….

When we reach the end of the Idioms part, we flip around and turn the book upside down to come to the next part, Icons. The artist succinctly states, “An icon is a pictorial representation of powerful significance typically painted, or carved on small wooden panels. An icon is also characteristically an object of uncritical devotion”. Nance has designed and printed the relief prints here, and on the pages that follow come pop-ups engineered by Julie Chen. These 3D images bombard your senses with layered textures, opening windows and closing doors in a seeming dreamscape. Each image stands before the you, daring you to define its purpose, its uniqueness and its importance in the journey of this work.

There is added excitement to this artists’ book experience: With its concertina structure, the book, as you read it, pulls out and shapes into an exhibition piece. Folds and tabs fall open to reveal new images and to offer new paths to imagination through a path that is less “bound” and suddenly more free to behold. It’s a true joy, thanks to Nance O’Banion, Julie Chen and the rest of book artists who make this book what it is: less domestic, less bound and truly magical.

- Eric Bush

  • • Edition of 87 of 150
  • • Concertina Bound
  • • Paper Engineered and printed by Julie Chen
  • • Text handset in 12 point Gill Sans