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Karen Hanmer
Glenview, Illinois

Celestial Navigation

A photograph of the Milky Way provides the background for an illustrated catalog of instruments used across the ages to navigate by the stars, and a 19th-century astronomical chart. This historical content is complemented by a brief poem in which the artist looks to the night sky to recapture the memory of a long lost beloved. Celestial Navigation is constructed of ink-jet printed, hinged triangles that can be held in the hand and read page by page like a traditional book. Unfolded flat, it references historical star charts or contemporary NASA composite photographs. The book can also be folded into myriad sculptural shapes. 6.75 x 5.75 x 0.5 inches, 17 x 14.5 x 1.5 centimeters. Created 2008.

Chicago book and installation artist Karen Hanmer’s intimate, playful works fragment and layer text and image to intertwine personal and cultural memory and the history of science. Her work weds the ancient act of bookbinding with the high-tech use of the computer to aid her process. She exhibits widely, and her work is included in collections ranging from Stanford University and Tate Britain to the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the Library of Congress, and Graceland. Hanmer holds a degree in economics from Northwestern University and has studied binding with Scott Kellar, Monique Lallier, and Priscilla Spitler. She is exhibitions chair for the Guild of Book Workers and serves on the editorial board of The Bonefolder: an e-journal for the bookbinder and book artist. Website at