Diane Cassidy's Cabinet of Curiosities

Book Arts

The Tennessee Waltz      1998
Based on a memory, fraught with pathos. An old silverware box became a stand-in for a record player where a 78 rpm record rests upon the makeshift turntable. A recording is available via earphones of Patti Page's rendition of the song interspliced with my reading of an original poem. There is an accompanying book composed of picture frame covers and images taken from various films and old magazines reproduced on acetate. The book is hand bound by sewing over tapes with exposed spine.
Aunt Norma and the 2 Hershey Bars   1999
This is a brief memoir about my socialization via the aid of Aunt Norma. The words and drawings are by a former 7 year old. The book dimensions are 10" x 16". It is an album style book with post and screw binding. End papers and fly sheets made from Hershey Bar wrappings.
The Train Book  2000
is the documentation of a round trip taken from San Jose, CA to West Glacier MT on Amtrak. It comes with a games board showing the route. The train is made up of 12 cars made of silver card stock using washers for wheels. The windows are filled with photos taken during the trip. It is accordion in structure using 3" nail piano hinge connectors.
The Ten Plagues of Egypt   2001
is my interpretation of the book of Exodus, Ch. 3 - Ch 14.
It is in scroll format. the Scroll is 10 inches high and 100 inches long, composed of four  pieces, knotted together. The scroll is maneuvered by attaching to sewing spools. It is housed in an old weapon's box, which was stained and patterned, using rubber stamps, depicting the 10 plagues .  The box is 11 x 22 by 7 inches high, and constructed  so as to back light the scroll. The scroll is printed on Mulberry paper with an Epson printer. The images are photographs taken from Cecil B. De Mille’s original “The Ten Commandments” movie made in 1923. The photos were then scanned into the computer and altered using photoshop. The Hebrew text was also scanned in from The Pentatuch. The English text are my words distilled from the chapters of Exodus from the Revised English Bible.
American Ghosts   2002
This is an altered book. I used a discarded library book, added images and acrylic paint to the covers.  Images from old Interview magazines plus a few rubber stamps were attached to the inside pages.  I integrated all with the help of gesso,  staining and sanding. I cut out a section of the book so I could install a 10 second recording of moaning accessed by pushing a button on the cover.  
Mailbox Book  2002
One day, while browsing through antique stores, I stumbled upon this old mailbox section. It was just like the mailboxes in my grandmother’s apartment building (where I stayed while attending school). I bought it though I had no plan for what I would do with it.  A couple of years later, when I became interested in memoir writing, I found its purpose. I divided my life into four segments. Diane Ryan covered my teen years. Diane Conway is life with my first husband and beyond. Diane Cassidy involved the Diane of her second marriage. Dianethe is the present Diane. Dianethe is writing to the three former Dianes, including letters written to herself.
Diversity/Destiny: 2005
This is a collection of fingerprints and handwriting, both of which display diversity. The text is from early 20th century attempts to depict personality characteristics from fingerprint patterns. The book format is “Jacobs Ladder”. The pages are ceramic tiles connected with transparent ribbon.
A Plethora of Petroglyphs   2005
A documentation of a tour of the petroglyphs at China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station near Ridgecrest, CA. An accordion format book with photos of petroglyphs printed on the pages of one side. Text and rubber stamp images on the reverse.
For this, my last book, I am reprinting a review written by Julia Bradshaw for ARTSHIFT San Jose

An exceptional marriage of intelligence, wit, freedom of materials and poignancy can be found in Diane Cassidy’s book titled “Taxidermy”. This large-scale, thick book combines screen-printed covers of pegboard, outsized square cardboard pages and makes an imaginative use of duct tape as the binding material. The book is 18” square and 5” thick. Recycling a socio-documentary project of silver gelatin photographs of taxidermists at work – made over twenty years ago – Cassidy has married these documentary-style pictures with text and pen-drawings redrawn from a small ‘how-to’ book on taxidermy published in 1943. The photographs are mounted on the left-side pages and the appropriated text and images are drawn directly onto the cardboard on the right-side pages. Visibly apparent are the artist’s pencil lines as she squared up her pages for centering her imagery and text. Thus, despite the crudeness of the materials, there is strong evidence of the artist’s precision. Sandwiched between the each photographic page and the text-page is a thick plastic film embedded lightly with dirt and hair. Cassidy describes this material as a simulation of parchment – but it is less romantic than that – it reminds me more of gelatin in some unfamiliar flexible form; but none-the-less the material implies an animal by-product.

The text and photographic imagery are very matter-of-fact. Despite the cover imagery of a deer in the center of a target, the project appears non-judgmental at first. Cassidy obviously built a rapport with the taxidermists she photographed for her project. Indeed, each taxidermist allowed her to photograph at close range certain steps in the procedure, and you gain some understanding of the care and precision that this craft requires. The text is also straightforward, although the transcribed sentences can be very vivid such as: “peel the end of the nose out carefully to retain the nose linings, split the lips to their edges. Go slowly.” And we are advised “Do not begrudge a fair price for first-class head forms.” … as if we would. However, as one reads through the book, the combination of the photographs, the factual statements about the process and then the oh-so-very happy looking rubber stamped images of gamboling deer that decorate some of the pages becomes disconcerting. The artist is not being quite so straight forward.

At the end of the book, it is the inclusion of the poem “Imaginary Menagerie” by Barbara Tran with permission, first published in the New Yorker in 2006, that sums up the artists intent with this work,

Blurb Books

Here is a link to see my Blurb Books: http://blurb.com/user/store/dianethe
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