The exhibition “Timothy C. Ely: Secret Order,” which features new manuscript books by the artist, will be on display in the Arcade Gallery at the Jundt Art Museum at Gonzaga University from March 19 through July 31.
An exhibit of work by bookmaker and book arts scholar Timothy Ely, consisting of eight folios from the one-of-a-kind manuscripts “Seed of Mercury”and “TXC 42,” highlights the artist’s skills as a craftsman, bookmaker, and illustrator.
Ely’s exquisitely bound books are informed by a myriad of sources such as world cultures, Western and Eastern religious traditions, astronomy, particle physics, cartography, alchemy, and sacred geometry. Diverse graphic elements such as skeletal structure, “UFOlogy” and the golden mean are unified by Ely’s own private written language.
Ely began making his own books at age 8 when comic books were his major influence. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in drawing and printmaking from Western Washington University and a Master of Fine Arts in design from the University of Washington. Through a 1982 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, Ely traveled and studied in Great Britain, Italy and Japan. Ely not only practices the craft of bookbinding, using a variety of techniques, but has taught classes and workshops on traditional and modern techniques in England, Costa Rica, and Norway. His lavishly painted and drawn unique manuscript books are in museum, public, and private collections throughout the world.
His lavishly painted and drawn unique manuscript books are in museum, public, and private collections throughout the world.
“Timothy Ely’s books are deeply seductive pieces of art created through acts of the highest craft. They are non-syntactical, so don’t try to read them. They are semiotic, however – the symbols do have a relationship to meaning – and are best experienced . . . by just looking and letting your mind wander. Associations will occur, and you’ll realize you found something you’d thought you lost: That fascination when you were a kid looking at a book or a map or a chart you didn’t know how to read. But you knew it was something important about the universe . . . ,” from the essay written for the Jundt exhibit by William Fox.
A free public reception for the artist will be held on Thursday, March 25, from 6-7:15 p.m., followed by the lecture “Secret Order” delivered by the artist at 7:30 p.m. in the Jundt Lecture Hall. Seating is limited.
The reception for Timothy C. Ely will coincide with a reception for “Collection Additions,” currently in the Jundt Galleries through April 1.
The museum’s exhibitions are free and open to the public from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Monday through Friday, and noon- 4 p.m. on Saturdays; closed Sundays and school holidays. For more information, please contact Karen Kaiser [Kaiser@gonzaga.edu], assistant curator for education at (509) 313-6613 or via e-mail.