Temporary Exhibitions

Boundless: Altered Books in Contemporary Art

June 16 – September 4, 2017

Opening reception – June 20, 5:30 pm

Boundless presents contemporary art inside Hill-Stead’s period rooms for the first time

In celebration of the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival’s 25th Anniversary, the historic Libraries will be transformed into a contemporary sculpture gallery to showcase Boundless: Altered Books in Contemporary Art, guest-curated by Carole Kunstadt, a graduate of the Hartford Art School. Installed among the many rare first editions and early volumes in the Pope family’s personal library, it is an exhibition of altered books by three contemporary artists: Carole P. Kunstadt, Chris Perry and Erin Walrath.

Boundless presents three unique approaches to transforming and exploring the malleability of the form, creating new structures and experiences of the codex. Using found books as their medium, the artists give new life, meaning and relevance to the source materials. Through each artist’s process of deconstruction and recreation, the pages and spines are layered, cut, stitched, molded, stacked, drilled, shredded, woven and gilded. In re-imagining both the content and the context the resulting works reshape our relationship with books. they entice us into a world intriguingly familiar yet previously unknown. The written texts are re-imagined into a boundless world of new associations, altered memories and rekindled responses.

Associations abound when viewing the altered books, rekindling intimate imaginings, sensorial responses to the books’ physicality and cherished memories of personal attachments to books.


Carole P. Kunstadt dissects, stitches, weaves and gilds book leaves savoring the aged qualities of the paper and text while reminding one of the personal associations to knowledge and history, and the passage and compression of time. Intimate in scale and intention the sculptural objects are a vehicle for the exploration of life’s vulnerabilities and a platform for sanctity and contemplation.


Boundless: Chris PerryChris Perry‘s book constructions elegantly invite us into an ordered, fluid, textural and structural experience. Cascading paper, layered or spouting from a stack of volumes, mimics and implies the focus on water and our environment. Reductive and additive elements find a balance in Perry’s works suggestive of the balance needed on Planet Earth.


Erin Walrath‘s nest-like forms entice as well as excite the eye with their organic shapes thick with fragments of font, text, fiber, color in partly recognizable book covers and spines. One finds a refuge in their densely-layered and textural structure; as well as a joy in discovering these hybrid forms.


Boundless is exclusive to the Hill-Stead Museum and is guest curated by Carole P. Kunstadt in collaboration with Melanie Bourbeau, Curator & Director of Interpretation and Programs and Susan Ballek, Executive Director, Hill-Stead Museum.