“Blurring boundaries and defying categorization, Daniel Essig is a sculptor, painter, and woodworker whose allegiance as an artist lies with the book. Like artifacts from antiquity, Essig’s works feel monumental in their complexity. To make his remarkable assemblages, he incorporates a multitude of components, including mica, nails, shells, old gears, and thorns. These comprise what Essig calls visual diaries – collections of found objects and totems of memory that ultimately honor the importance of the book.
Nuanced with shallow textures, carved, painted, and layered, Essig’s sublime surfaces appear softened by time. His unforgettable pieces challenge traditional ideas about the medium as they straddle the line between book and sculpture.” – Masters Book Arts: Major Works by Leading Artists
DANIEL J. ESSIG
BOOKS | Sculptural books
Penland Affiliation | Penland Instructor 1999, 2001, 2003, 2009. 2014, 2016, 2022, Penland Core Fellow 1992-1994
Artist Information | Studio artist; teaching: Anderson Ranch (CO), Arrowmont (TN), University of Georgia Cortona Italy Program, Grampian Textures (Australia), Sievers School of Fiber Arts (WI); North Carolina Artist Fellowship, Penland Core Fellowship; collections: Renwick Gallery (DC), Mint Museum (NC), University of Iowa Special Collections, University of California–Santa Cruz McHenry Library, Vanderbilt University Special Collections (TN)
Artist Statement | I am interested in traces of the past, ancient binding styles, altered books, distressed finishes, and found objects. Since I was six or seven years old, I’ve been collecting small objects. I have seashells and interesting rocks that I collected at the beach on childhood vacations. I also have my grandfather’s arrowhead collection. I’ve stored up seed pods, rocks, bones, shells, bits of rusty metal, nails, animal teeth, fossils. They represent periods in my life, even just days or moments. I keep my collection of objects in drawers, bottles, and boxes within a single small room in my house. The space has the feel of a German Wunderkammern, a “cabinet of curiosities”. I often sit in the room and scan my collection, seeking just the right object to inspire a new book or sculpture.
Technical Information | Wood-covered artist books and book-based sculptures using Ethiopian-style Coptic binding, mixed-media