Hidden Visual Storytelling – Hannah Marble

Last semester I was lucky enough in one of my classes to visit the rare books collection at the University Library. The books were spectacular, however, the university of Utah library did not have a specific type of book I had been searching for. A fore-edge painting book, these painting are exquisite and to see on in person was a goal I had.

ForeEdge5Three weeks ago I visited the BYU Library, where they have a plethora of fore-edge paintings. These images are unreal. At first place the painting is invisible. The pages of the book have to set on an angle for the intricately crafted painting to become visible. While many of these paintings have simple stories to convey, I found that the more telling story about these paintings were about the individuals who created them. They truly hold stories about the artists. Depending on the book, and where it came from the story within the paintings are unique. The first book was very old religious books the images painted on the fore edge of the book were beautiful Bible story scenes. As the pages of the book have to be angles the artist is able to create two unique works of art on either side of the pages. I think that these images while telling simple stories held within the Bible, told more intimate stories about the artists themselves. These stories following the idea that these people created incredible works of art that could simply go unnoticed if one was not looking for them. This speaks volumes that these people valued beauty, however, they also valued that it had to be sought out. It wasn’t simply going to manifest itself.ForeEdge5_split double.1

To further the story along with these paintings, I found it unique and beautifully unconventional that they are done on books. Books tell us stories, we all know that, but it isn’t until we turn the pages and delve into the books that we read and then see the beautiful scenes that simply lay before our eyes. This refers to both the stories within the words and the stories told on the angles edges of the pages.


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