About Open Book

Open Book is a reflection of two things;  my love of anything old, the central vertical line that is prevalent in a lot of my work and books. I guess that’s three things.

I grew up with books, my Mom was / is an avid reader and since I can remember books have always been apart of my environment. It is hard to articulate what I find so fascinating about books. The story, the words bound into a container, compartmentalized, a world of it’s own bearing no external influences.  Old books with their bumps and bruises, still around after all these years with their story still intact. Never changing. Solid and sure in their identity.

More often than not when I start a new body of work I become prolific. One thing leads to another, momentum builds and I couldn’t stop even if I wanted to.

The pieces in Open Book are the actual size of a book.  The book cover pieces where made from alpha mat mounted on to board. The spine was whetted and fastened over a form and left to dry. After which I applied encasutic and oil. Oh and I added some string to the spine to create the ridges. I carved in the text with a scribe and highlighted it with gold oil paint.  You can’t see it in the image to the left but the “book cover” lifts just a bit around the edge to reveal a book page underneath.

Other pieces in the series take a more stylized approach where I emulate the interior of the book by using book pages and merge them with encasutic, oil and found objects. It is like old books meet old Victorian pealing wallpaper.

My work gets stronger when it relates to like pieces. They feed off each other computationally and keeps the eye interested.  I approach each piece as an individual work but like I said earlier; one thing leads to another as I explore a theme and all of a sudden a polyptych is born.

I am currently selling some of this work and donating the proceeds to girls’ education.

Please buy a book to support education for girls.

How My Dad Influenced My Art Practice.

My father has had a great influence on my life like most parents. He taught me a work ethic that lead to self employment at an early age, I was 26. But more than that he influenced how I look at the world and interpret that with my unique visual language. This is how my dad influenced my art practice.

Alan David Henigman was born in Saskatoon in 1928. He settled in Calgary in the 1950’s and bought a lot in the community of Millican Ogden in the south east. The land already had the foundation of a house and that’s it.

Not being wealthy man and no house plans he did his own design build. The story goes that he would purchase building materials pay cheque to pay cheque. He would problem solve as he went along.

Being an appliance repair man for General Electric, he also moonlighted by reconditioning old washers, dryers, fridges, and the like.  His work shop was in the basement and attached garage and he was always picking up broken appliances to fix and resell. Word spread because his repairs lasted. What he couldn’t fix he recycled, used for parts or as my list below mentions, repurposed.

Some of my favourite examples of his repurposing are…

  • Using copper tubing, more than likely left over from the plumbing, for the kitchen cupboard pulls.
  • Salvaging and using old oven doors from his appliance repairs and construction a window for our back porch.
  • The ceiling in the living room was a wood vaulted ceiling made from salvaged wood doors.
  • The towel rack in the bathroom was a salvaged oven door pull.
  • The front stairs to our home was a design of his own and he constructed and pored the concrete himself.
  • Not having enough siding to complete the length of the front porch railing he cut a detail to finish the shortage.
My Dad and me at the BBQ slash fire pit he designed and built in the 60’s well before it was fashionable to have an outdoor cookery.

My Dad is the very definition of “function before form”. The most important thing to him was that it work.  The ascetic of our home was my Mother’s territory. My Dad taught me to look at my surroundings and the objects in it with new eyes. It’s not just a piece of copper tubing, it’s a door pull. It not just a window for an oven door, it’s actually a window for anything.

So when you see objects used in my work now you know why.

Do you have an unsung person that influenced your art? Who was it and how did they influence you?

I gratefully acknowledge Ann Hart Marquis who interviewed me about my work and really got me thinking. As a result this blog post was born. Thank You Ann for making me think.

Why I Chose to Support Education for Girls

I am a reluctant feminist mainly because I don’t think there should be such a thing. I have always considered myself and everyone else as people first. Gender never really enters the equation, at least not for me. The word feminist to me means believing that all people to be people is not a natural state.

I am a product of the 50’s and grew up at the height of the women’s movement. Did I participate, no, not really.

What I did do is make my own way. I became self employed at the age of 26. I owned a design firm for nearly 20 years and employed up to 12 people. When my passion for art could no longer be ignored, I sold my firm to pursue my art full time.

When I realized that I needed a website, well, I learnt how to do that. Now I have a thriving online business where I help other artists create an online presence. My point…

I had choices

With the advent of the internet and coaches like ArtbizCoach.com, there is help for the artist entrepreneur who wants to develop marketing skills and take control of their careers.

Artists now have choices

Shamsia Hassani, ‘Dreaming Graffiti with Banksy’, 2012. Image courtesy the artist.
Shamsia Hassani, Afghanistan’s first female street artist, emerges as a spokesperson for women’s rights in Kabul.

Since I have the internet and a choice, I have an idea.

Here’s the idea

Since the fundamental component of all my series revolves around women’s issues I would like to see my work help those that need it the most.

Malala Yousafzai was shot when returning from school for going to school. She survived

I was lucky, I had a college education, I was able to chose. I can not for one minute imagine NOT HAVING A CHOICE!

But there are so many girls (and boys too), but mostly girls, that due to tradition or religion don’t get to chose. They are married off as soon as they hit puberty and are often left having to fend for themselves and their children because of war, strife or circumstance.

As much as I would prefer to live with my ideals; gender inequality exists. It exists in Canada, the USA, throughout the western world and as that fight continues there are still girls, children, in developing nations that may never have the same choices that we have.

I believe in choice.

Since I have a choice, I choose to:
The Girl Effect

To facilitate this I have created an online shop to sell work from the “Open Book” series. This series speaks specifically to the education for girls movement.

With your generous purchase of my art, I am able to donate to Education for Girls charities.

Why am I doing this?

Because I have a choice, so I choose to Support Education of Girls then maybe someday they too will have a choice.

Please contact me if you have any questions. 

View the work and Donate, Shop, Support

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#artist donates to #educationforgirls for every piece sold @ArtbizKimBruce Click to Tweet

Altered Books

I am a great lover of books both for their content and their aesthetics. Books have been around me for my entire life. My Mother is a big reader and has custom built book shelves in her home.

I daydream about writing a book although I’m not sure what that looks like in words. Mine is a visual language.

Books provide knowledge and ideas, but what if you could not access that knowledge. What if it was taken away? No you can’t turn to the internet that is not what this is about.

These altered books act as my canvas and present themselves as the keepers of knowledge. Vaults. Unreachable. Inaccessible.

View the book series



Taking a number of the same pieces that were used in the “In Line” installation this arrangement resembles a cruciform. I will be showing this installation at my exhibit “Off the Wall” at the VAAA Gallery where I plan on taking some photographs so you can see it in scale.  The install is 62″ x 62″ x4″ but I may add one more piece on the left and the bottom to make it more cruciform like but will make that call when we install on Thursday.