Made in St. Louis: Artistic Binder Affton Boxes Tell a Story | Lifestyles


By Pat Eby Special at Post-Dispatch

A careful reading of the elaborate box that Joanne Kluba made to contain the little things she had gathered and hidden in a drawer, says a lot about this artist. She built it to house every object that marked particular moments in her life. It reads like a book, the way she wanted it to.

She’s a bookbinder, a creator of art books, a poet who puts her free words into calligraphy. She’s a gifted watercolourist, printmaker, collage artist, and storyteller, evident in the books she painstakingly designs, binds and boxes.

Made in St. Louis: Paperbirds by Joanne Kluba

The cover of a book of memories Kluba made to commemorate his mother, “My Precious Mother”, with quotes from family members in the pages of Kluba’s artwork.

Photo by Joanne Kluba

Rock, paper, scissors, button, coin • “With all my valuables in it, the box becomes a story about me,” she says. “There is a bone file, one of my tools, a picture of my parents, an old pencil with earrings, stubs from tickets to shows and events, a book of matches brought from Japan, a Andy Goldsworthy postage stamp. I had pearls in the drawer, a nutshell, a single porcupine feather – now I use the feathers to close books.

Made in St. Louis: Paperbirds by Joanne Kluba

Joanne Kluba at work in her studio.

Student, apprentice, master • Kluba embodies all three, in different disciplines of art, graphics, poetry and bookbinding.

“I got a BFA in printmaking from Webster University. After graduation I floundered a bit and ended up in graphic arts. The whole time that I worked in graphic design, I followed my fine arts – painting, photography and printmaking.

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