Repurposing Books into 3-D Art: New NY Bridge


Jodi Harvey-Brown with “Imagination’s Journey,” her book sculpture of the New NY Bridge
Jodi Harvey-Brown with “Imagination’s Journey,” her book sculpture of the New NY Bridge

Delta, Pennsylvania, is about three and one-half hours by car from Nyack, New York. Factor in rain and traffic, and it becomes a journey.

Earlier this month, pop-up book artist Jodi Harvey-Brown made that roundtrip to The Empire State — specifically, to the Rockland Community Outreach Center — to enter her sculpture, “Imagination’s Journey,” into the New NY Bridge Art Show 2014 “Bridging the Waters.”

I first spoke with Harvey-Brown in July after finding her unique creations online. And after carving some of literature’s well-known characters — including Harry Potter, Tom Sawyer, and Huckleberry Finn — she was ready to take on a different challenge.

Three-dimensional perception of NNYB
Three-dimensional perception of NNYB

An avid book lover who also loves to draw, she studied art at Seton Hill University in Greensburg, PA. Nearly everyone in her family is creative in some form, she said, and after learning her grandfather was forbidden to pursue art, she was determined to succeed.

Her rule is no rare books and no first editions: Harvey-Brown uses mainly old and/or discarded books. Each handmade scene is protected with a UV finish; sculptures are wired through to hold them in place.

Please tell us the genesis of it. How did you come up with the idea?

Since every work comes from a book with a similar topic, she used a 1932 edition of Roddy’s Complete Geography. “I picked the book because it has an emphasis on New York and the northern states, so I thought it would be fitting.”

What is it made of? Tell us a little bit about it.

“About 90 percent of the sculpture is purely made from the book pages. The tree trunks are rolled paper, and the branches are wire wrapped with paper, and each leaf is individually cut and glued into place, like paper mache. There were some integrity issues, and there are some wires in place as well to hold the shape.”

How do you go about creating the composition? Do you have a plan?

“For this particular book, we had a design in mind: I wanted to base it off the bridge as accurately as possible. Some of those things had to be changed because the bridge is such a massive structure, and it’s difficult to fit that into a book.”

How long did it take to complete?

“The project was about 100 hours. This is a big challenge for me because most of my work you can view from any angle, and I had to use a forced perspective with this.”

What other ideas were you looking at? You did the totality of the bridge.

“I didn’t want to just do the bridge because I feel like it’s such a big project, and the communities are really involved with it. I wanted to make sure I got land on either side of the water to connect the two together.”

And because she loves lighthouses, Harvey-Brown said, she included the iconic Lighthouse in Sleepy Hollow.

“Bridging the Waters” will have its grand opening in Nyack on September 5, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., and in Tarrytown on September 12, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. There will be a Best of Show and Two Runners Up selected by the Visual Quality Panel at each location.

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