The worlds of art and literature collided in Fallbrook High School’s library when entries in the inaugural Altered Books Contest were put on display in December. A lot of thought, ingenuity, and imagination went into the recycling of books into artistic masterpieces.
At the beginning of the school year, high school librarian Jennifer Baxter took an inventory of the books in her care and “weeded” out 200 outdated or damaged books. Discarded books were also obtained from other libraries in the area to supply 278 students with the materials for the challenge of creating a work of art out of a book.
Most of the entries were done as projects in art classes at the high school; the art teachers picked the best creations in each of their classes and submitted them as finalists along with a few pieces created by students not enrolled in art. Of the 46 finalists, several used techniques like origami to fold their books’ pages into shapes, like swans, airplanes and the letters FUHS.
Some students, like senior Olivia Wadsworth, used the pages to make paper mache figures. Olivia, who likes birds, formed the body of her owl with Styrofoam, a cardboard tube, duct tape and paper mache. She used her book’s cover as the base for the wings and what was left of the book for a stand. Her favorite subject is art and she likes “getting my hands messy.” Olivia has also written her own book, a copy of which is in the library. Other paper mache book figures included a duck, a hand coming out of a handbook, and a human heart.
Other students added handmade objects to their books. Senior Emily Abon made a clay dragon in art class for her art piece made from a law book, “inspired by a story I’m writing about dragons and a book I am reading about dragons,” she said. Emily likes reading “actual books;” her favorite subjects are English and wood shop.
Junior Andrew Martinez took a book that “didn’t mean anything and transformed [it] into something meaningful” by making a scanned photo of himself with his grandparents the center of the piece. Andrew is two months old in the photo and his grandfather has passed away since then. He added colorful rice paper to the pages folded back like flower petals. His favorite subject is math and he likes to read history; he has also volunteered at the library for four years.
Any members of the faculty and student body who wanted to could cast their votes for the winners of the contest [see sidebar for a complete list of winners]. Some of the faculty who voted included Rod King (principal), Nicole Miller and Regina Zurbano (assistant principals), Bill Richardson (art dept chair/teacher), Emily Hammer (art teacher), and Ashley Scibilia (ceramics teacher).
Baxter first heard of the idea of an altered book contest when she was working at the Grace Melman Library in Temecula but did not have the opportunity to try doing it until now. She said, “I hope this is something we can do through the years,” adding that she is already saving books for the next contest.
Altered Book Contest 2012
1st Place – Maddie Ashbrook #30 (Great Gatsby typewriter)
2nd Place and “People’s Choice” – Jasmine Rojas #1 (Swans)
3rd Place – Elbira Francisco #39 (Paper Flowers)
1st Runner Up – Rosa Contreras #31 (Egyptian theme)
2nd Runner Up – Alanna McLeod #19 (Stop Studying Start Learning)
Most School Spirit – Mateo Ramon # 27 (FUHS cut-out book)
Most Humorous – Hunter Bartz #6 (Paper Mache hand coming out of book) and Makayla Trexler #38 (UFO w/ dangling cow)
Most Beautiful – MacKenzie Kuran #2 (paper airplanes coming out of book)
Most Functional – Selina Eich #13 (purse)
Best Literary Theme – Rachel Jones #18 (vampire teeth red lips smile – “Twilight” made from actual Twilight book)
Sandy Soto #3 (Black ‘magician’–looking w/ silver glitter coming out of hand)
Katrina Argamosa #5 (man chasing girl 3-D scene from popular teen video game)
Peter Dunckel #9 (the red head coming out of a book)
Tommy Salvador #12 (the green googly-eyed monster)
Megan Martinko #22 (the rainbow fish)
Sairy Contreras #23 (the 3-D garden scene)
Olivia Wadsworth #34 (the owl covered w/ feathers)