Graham Patten is the book conservator at the Boston Athenaeum. A 2014 graduate of the Buffalo State College master's program in art conservation, he served for three years as an Assistant Book Conservator at the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC). He was the 2014-2016 Conservation Fellow at Northwestern University Library. Graham's bookbinding experience has come in various forms including workshops at the North Bennet Street School, bench training on the job, and guidance from mentors. He is a member of the Guild of Bookworkers, a Professional Associate of the American Institute for Conservation, and he serves on the North Bennet Street School Bookbinding Program Advisory Committee. In his art, Graham often focuses on dynamic sculptural and mechanical elements, and enjoys merging these features with innovative book structures. His bindings have been exhibited nationally and internationally, and examples of his work are held by various institutions and private collectors.
The Measure of the Circle : Perfected in January, 1845.
Providence: for the author, 1845.
Bound in green goatskin and cherry wood. Leather and wood features stand proud off the surface on the front cover, and are inlaid into recesses on the back cover. Silk front-bead endbands, and green Bugra endsheets. The text is a treatise on Davis's [false] solution to the ancient problem of "squaring the circle", which sets the challenge of constructing a square with the same area as a given circle using only a compass and straight-edge. While the problem has since been proven impossible, it provides interesting material for design. On these covers the pattern of a square overlaid on a circle has been pared down to its most spare form, allowing the viewer's perception to complete the shapes. The boards are constructed of two intersecting planes – leather and wood – at slight angles to each other, and where they intersect the design inverts. The raised and recessed areas of wood and leather are continuous with their respectively matched planar areas opposite the intersecting line.
The textblock will be sewn on thin tapes and bound with narrow internal joint flanges in order to accommodate the stiff text paper and allow the pages to fall open flat. Endsheets will consist of additional leaves of Rives BFK to match the text, with black flyleaves. Book block edges to be decorated with graphite. The cover boards will be constructed as a combination of bare solid hardwood cut in cross section from a tree root, and leather-covered millboard. Where wood appears in the design, that wood will comprise the full thickness of the cover boards – visible on both inner and outer surfaces. On the outer surfaces the wood will lie somewhat proud off the leather surface in places. The shaping of the wood will follow the natural course of the grain and branching of the selected root stock, and therefore may vary slightly from the proposed pattern.
To be covered in dark blue goatskin, with red and yellow suede underlays visible through openings cut in the leather. On the inside surfaces of the boards the wood will rest within green suede sunken doublures. Leather inner hinges, red suede adhered endbands. The inspiration for this design lies in the connections between Five Poems and Toni Morrison's related novels Beloved and Jazz. The image of a tree is derived in part from the "chokecherry tree" scar Sethe bears on her back in Beloved, and in part from the prevalence of skeletal tree silhouettes found in Kara Walker's art. The dual nature of the cover boards – wood vs. leather – is intended to evoke the ambiguity Morrison wields so powerfully in her work: the irreconcilable various explanations of the nature of the ghostly character Beloved/Wild; the duality expressed in “Eve Remembering”; and the disturbing dichotomy of the beauty of a tree and the brutality it symbolizes in the form of a scar.
The streaks of red suede are a reference to the redwing blackbirds that signal the presence of Beloved/Wild, who weaves throughout not only the novels but also Five Poems as “Eve”. They may also be taken as the image of fish in her hair, referred to in the various works. The movement of the motif comes directly from Eve's posture in Walker's silhouette, and embodies her striking gestural energy as she casts aside false paradise and naiveté, and rejects her "master". The unbalanced placement of the tree and birds accelerates the movement and tone of the poems and silhouettes, evoking the sense that Eve is striding right off the book.