The Written Image: Kerry Mansfield’s “Expired”

From the July/August 2018 issue of
Poets & Writers Magazine

Ever since she unearthed an old library checkout card tucked into the back of a book in a Goodwill store several years ago, San Francisco artist Kerry Mansfield has collected hundreds of old library books and stored them in her studio, which she calls “the wayward home for ex-library books.” In 2013 Mansfield began documenting the books in her ongoing project “Expired” (, which features photos of books against simple black backgrounds. “I tend to anthropomorphize the books since each one has its own character and damaged beauty,” says Mansfield. “Each one shares the stories not only written on the pages, but through pen markings, coffee splatters, filled-in checkout cards, or yellowed tape stretching the book’s life out before its demise.” Mansfield, who in October self-published Expired, a book of 175 photos from the project, selects books that have a story behind them. “What may look like a simple checkout card actually maps one kindergartner’s love of a book through several years, expressed by the improving quality of her handwriting over time,” she says. “I look for books that have a deep sense of history via travel, time, and readers combined.” Mansfield still has more than eighty books to photograph, which she plans to feature in a second collection.