The Mercantile Library named artist Sara Caswell-Pearce its first-ever artist-in-residence in January 2018. Her residency runs through 2019. Caswell-Pearce is a Cincinnati-based collage artist, printer and graphic designer. An exhibition of her work, Uncovered: Art Out of the Stacks, is showing at the Mercantile Library through December 22, 2018.

From Sara:

How to find an artist-in-residence … tell a shameless dumpster diver, paper collector, flea market regular, former librarian, former journalist and current full-time collage artist that you are deaccessioning books. That is, getting rid of BOOKS from your collection. Wait for her to salivate. And … voila.

Okay, it didn’t happen quite like that, but it was close.

I heard that The Mercantile Library was deaccessioning books. As a librarian, I know how difficult it is to part with, well, anything. But you can’t keep it all, and in that case, why not give the ones in really bad shape to me? “I am in luck,” was my immediate thought.

Next thing I know John Faherty, the Mercantile Library’s director, and I were having a conversation and an artist residency was born. The Mercantile’s first.

After months of aimless pilfering, and ideas that came and went, I finally landed on telling the story of the Mercantile Library’s history and its physical space via collages, cut-paper portraits and assemblages.

This is just a start.

For the second part of my residency, yes it continues in 2019, I will dive into books themselves, their structure and content by making books and altering books, and employing book-related arts techniques from printmaking and calligraphy to paper folding and binding.

About Sara:

Paper, paper and more paper. Sara Caswell-Pearce is a Cincinnati-based collage artist, printer and graphic designer who cannot get enough paper. Old paper. Grungy paper. Peculiar paper. Paper retrieved from trash baskets and dumpsters. Paper spotted at book sales and flea markets. Paper unloaded by friends and strangers.

Her passion is for finding antique images, and helping them tell a new story. She does this via snarky greeting cards and complex, layered fine-art collages in which she combines antique and vintage materials with hand-painted and hand-printed backgrounds, and handmade paper.

Her work is generally narrative, with a feminist slant. She has recently been exploring paper cutting, 3-D paper projects, silkscreen printing, and book structures.

She attended Rutgers University for her undergraduate and graduate degrees, and received chef training at The Restaurant School (Philadelphia). After an array of careers (public relations, libraries, restaurants, journalism) she became a full-time, professional artist.

She is the founder and owner of Paper with a Past, and co-founder of Gallery 708 in downtown Cincinnati.

Her collages have been shown at the Alice F. and Harris K. Weston Art Gallery, Art Academy of Cincinnati, Contemporary Arts Center (Cincinnati), KMAC Museum (Louisville), Manifest Gallery, Mount Saint Joseph University, The Carnegie, University of Cincinnati, and are in the collection of the University of Cincinnati’s School of Medicine. She currently has collages in “Still They Persist” and “Tripletta,” exhibits that are traveling nationally.

In the summer of 2016, she had her first solo museum exhibition at Colorado’s Loveland Museum of Art. In 2015, she was awarded an Aid to Individual Artists Grant from Summerfair Cincinnati.

She is the co-author of Harper Ever After: The Early Work of Charlie and Edie Harper (Pomegranate Art Books, 2015). She recently relocated her workspace to The Essex Studios in Walnut Hills.

For more, visit CityBeat Cincinnati: HERE