“Artists’ books can uniquely communicate complex narrative concepts through image-based and text-based channels. Within the book arts, I am most attracted to creating pop-ups—I enjoy working sculpturally within the book format. I enjoy the engineering challenge involved in developing intricate dimensional forms that fold flat.” Shawn Sheehy
“A Pop-up Field Guide to North American Wildflowers” combines the talents of artists Shawn Sheehy, creator and designer behind the book, and Sarah Vogel for her letterpress printing—a process that transformed printing in the Western world during the 1400s. In today’s world, that technique is still appreciated for its attention to details in the properties of color and texture.
According to Sheehy, his engineered structures are not only meant to be a field guide for flowers, but also a cultural study as it relates to the wildflowers of today and of years gone by.
Housed in the Mahn Center for Archives & Special Collections, OHIO Libraries owns copy two of 30 books originally printed of Sheehy’s Field Guide to North American Flowers. A beautifully engineered structure, the book is a celebration of the simplest of flowers to the most spectacular in nature’s garden of florals.
“Shawn Sheehy is a contemporary artist, a book maker and paper engineer [who uses] handmade paper—[and] everything is hand cut and hand constructed,” said Miriam Intrator, special collections librarian. “We are very lucky to have one of Shawn’s original books.”
An interesting facet of the book is Sheehy’s political twist in his essay titled, “A Language of Flowers for the 21st Century.”
“When you read the descriptions of the flowers in the back you can see there is a political human touch that you would not see in a historical field guide to wildflowers,” said Intrator. “So it is both beautiful to look at—the flowers are very striking as they pop out—and there is a lot of meaning inside the book itself.”