Columbia College Chicago

THE WORLD AS TEXT / Visual Extensions

THE WORLD AS TEXT: A Temporary Reading Room designed and fabricated by Transparent Industries under the direction of John Preus

with concurrent exhibition
Visual Extensions, a group show of works by artists represented in the reading room

June 16 - August 12, 2011

reading room sketch
reading room sketch (john preus)

The contemporary production of artists' books is a canon-defying zone of acitivity shared by visual artists, book artists, designers, printmakers, photographers and literary artists from myriad backgrounds, communities and art worlds.  Accordingly, there is no single value system for the production, distribution and criticism of artists' books.  In an attempt to represent a dynamic slice of this field as it operates globally, this reading room, will feature books, publications and printed matter- all made by artists.

While the reading room will represent a multitude of apporaches to the book form, the works will be linked by a commitment to intellectual, aesthetic and conceptual investigation and expression.
Over seventy five books in the the reading room are selected by a group of guest curators, including Doro Boehme, Sarah Bodman, Steve Clay, Maria Fusco, Little Berlin (collective), Emily McVarish, Tate Shaw, Buzz Spector, Temporary Services and others. 

About the Reading Room Design:
Designed and fabricated by Transparent Industries -directed by John Preus

Beginning with 2nd-hand desks, office chairs, and other implements of reading and writing, the Reading Room will be built and designed by a team of designer/apprentice pairings responding to literary terminology, theory and history as a point of departure for building discreet physical objects and environments. 

All speech can be considered a form of quotation, more or less successful attempts to authentically inhabit an existing collection of terms, clichés, and ready-to-hand expressions.  And similarly, all objects could be considered temporary iterations of an epic material morphology. The edifice of language derives much of its vocabulary from the physical world, in turn, lending it intelligibility, significance, meaning, and articulation.  Imagining the built environment as a set of inscriptions upon an inherited landscape, the Reading Room explores the complex interdependencies of language and form. -John Preus

Public Programs

A hybrid space designed to amplify connections between the action of reading and the acitivy of performance, the reading room will host readings, performances and panel discussions on topics related to teh art and craft of books, the interpretive act of reading and the world as text.  A schedule will be released in April. 

Concurrent Exhibition: Visual Extensions
Visual Extensions is an exhibition of works by artists culled from the reading room, curated to make visible the connections between book practices and interdisciplinary art making.  


John Preus Bio
A child to Lutheran ministers going back 6 generations to Norway, Preus spent his early years on a seminary campus running barefoot under a cathedral of trees in Makumira, Tanzania, an experience which informs his spatial and moral imagination.  His work as a builder, teacher and artist explores the complex ecology between humans, things, and spaces.  He is the co-founder of Dilettante Studios, Material Exchange and recently Transparent Industries.  Preus has roughly 16 years of building and designing experience including a 2 year hand tool apprenticeship, and work with various cabinet shops and carpentry/construction crews. He holds a BA in art from Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota, and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Chicago. He completed 3 courses of study in Tuscanny with art gurus Rose Shakinovsky and Claire Gavronsky, and studied for one year at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.  He teaches on occasion at SAIC and Truman College.  Exhibitions of his work include the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, the Portland Museum of Contemporary Craft, the Betty Rhymer Gallery, the Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago, and the Devos Museum of Art, Marquette, Michigan.  The work of Transparent Industries will be included in the upcoming inaugural exhibition Dublin Contemporary 2011, held in Dublin, Ireland this fall.  He lives with his family in West Rogers Park on the north side of Chicago.

Gallery Hours

Due to building renovations, the Center for Book and Paper Arts gallery, studio and facilities are closed. We will reopen in August 2014 for Fall semester classes, exhibitions and public programs.



Due to building renovations, the Center for Book and Paper Arts gallery, studio and facilities are closed. We will reopen in August 2014 for Fall semester classes, exhibitions and public programs.

View Spring 2014 
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