Open the Book

Dara Meyers-Kingsley

When I open a book, I open my life,” says artist Diane Samuels. “I find worlds to explore beyond my own. Doors open to experience solace and pleasure and joy.” Writers and readers the world over can surely relate to that feeling of escape that so often accompanies the creative, imaginative, even spiritual engagement with a book. But the Pittsburgh-based visual artist takes that experience a step further with her series of art pieces One Book, One Drawing, which she has been slowly creating for nearly a decade. Samuels is primarily a visual artist, but she is also an equally committed reader and activist. Her artistic practice is a unique form of creative rewriting that involves transcribing every word of a published poem, novel, essay, or play in her beautiful microscript, making ekphrastic works, often on handmade paper, that are monumental in size or scale. Samuels typically devotes more than a year to each major work in a process that begins with reading the book from start to finish, then reading it again, this time slowly, out loud, recording herself while she puts her pen to paper and rewrites one phrase, one line, one sentence at a time.

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