Are You Book Enough: Break

Posted on: May 30th, 2020 by jmbroekman 2 Comments
Break: Seasons


We could probably all use a break right about now. Am I right?

“Break” was this month’s theme for the Instagram bookbinding community “Are You Book Enough” challenge. Sarah Maker, of Editions Studio, began this challenge in 2017, and has been offering up a one word theme every month since then. Artists around the world participate by interpreting the theme and making an artist’s book – broadly defined. I had been following the hashtags (never feeling as if I was quite book enough) for some time before I finally decided to dive in. I have to say that during the shelter in place order, and with the chaos of the news surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been a balm; a way to turn all of my attention and focus in a positive and engaging direction to come up with a book about: Hexagon for March, Machine for April, and finally Break for this month, May. (If you have an Instagram account and do not already follow me, I encourage you to check out my work for the previous months: @jmbroekman).

The thing is, I am such an obsessively hard worker and perfectionist (in some – clearly not all – ways), that I can’t make just one book. This month (thus far), for example, I’ve completed seven. Each of which has in turn led me to another.

Break. Pause. Interrupt.

“Break” brought to mind so many interpretations. Of course there is break as in: crack, destroy, break apart, break open. But what interested me even more, was break as in: pause, interrupt, the space between. I thought of how it relates to time – the time between, as in intermission; and that what we are experiencing now is a break in the normalcy of our lives, an intermission between Act 1: before the pandemic and what has been; and Act 2: what is still unknown, has yet to become. That was the first book: Intermission (at left top).

Break. Disrupt. That space between two moments.

Next up were a series of thoughts and books about water; waves and tides. The place where the wave crashes, rolls into shore and then back out. The moment when it changes direction. That break when the incoming tide becomes outgoing. A reversal. The gap in a pattern. That nanosecond when something is neither this nor that.

Break. Crack. Destroy.

Then one day I took a detour. As I was washing my hands for the umpteenth time, I glanced up at a painting I’d made 27 years ago. It was from a series of cracked vessel paintings, which in turn reminded me of another small body of work I’d completed in 2015 – prints of vessels that were in response to the bombing of a booksellers street in Iraq in 2007 (more about that project here). I had a mess of proofs from that project in my flat files, and thought I could make a broken cup book (below). The result was not what I had in mind, but it was great to find a use for all those proofs.


Break free, break loose, break out.

Another direction. This one was an idea that had been tumbling around inside my head all month. Spring took it’s time arriving in Maine. At the beginning of May, I wore a heavy jacket on my morning walks – the temps were still only reaching 40 degrees. But each day, I watched as spring slowly started to emerge. It brought to mind the question: when is that moment when one season becomes the next? I was watching as winter broke and became spring, and now spring is fast hurtling toward summer. After I sent my friend Janet some thoughts I was working with for text in the next book, she wrote so eloquently:

Some seasons creep in slow and some days start off in one season and end in another.

I was noticing the windows through which one season breaks free and becomes the next; how plants push their way through the not completely thawed ground to announce the arrival of spring. This became the most recent (but possibly not the last) book for this month’s challenge. It may be the most hopeful of the lot. Which admittedly we can all likely use a good dose of as spring finds it’s way toward summer, and we continue to try and crawl our way into a post-pandemic world.

My hope for you is that this pandemic will not break you in any way shape or form. Be well, stay safe and whole.

2 Responses

  1. Gail Clark says:

    Nice work, Jessyca. The pandemic has a silver lining. Studio time has been a saving grace and a productive time.