Urgent Museum Notice

The Art of Pi Day

Blog Category:  Artist Spotlight
A pie tin filled with eight small folded pieces of paper that resemble identical slices of pie with a lattice top and red filling. Each slice is labeled with a title in black and opens, containing short stories written inside.

To celebrate Pi Day today, we immediately thought of spotlighting a work in NMWA’s collection of artists’ books, Emily Martin’s Eight Slices of Pie.

A pie tin filled with eight small folded pieces of paper that resemble identical slices of pie with a lattice top and red filling. Each slice is labeled with a title in black and opens, containing short stories written inside.
Emily Martin, Eight Slices of Pie, 2002; Inkjet printing on paper, aluminum and plastic pie pan, 10 in. (Dia.); National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Zena and Arnold Lerman in honor of Iris Greene; © Emily Martin

This artist’s book represents Martin’s reactions to the tragedy of September 11, 2001. She explains, “I abandoned the project I had just begun: a humorous carousel book about nightmares. Reality was nightmarish enough, and it certainly was not funny. During this time I found myself drawing in, thinking about my family, seeking comfort. One day, as I sat with my notebook in a café, I focused on the comforting notion of pie. I began to write, allowing the format of wedge pages to shape the written text.”

Martin regards artists’ books as containers of content as well as sculptural objects. She draws inspiration from her own life and seeks to foster communication between her books and their viewers. To achieve this intimacy, Martin believes her books should be handled. In Eight Slices of Pie, the slices unfold to reveal personal memories, reflections, and pie recipes.

“For example,” writes Martin, “the recipe for lemon chiffon pie accompanies a story from my past which ends: ‘The college romance was doomed but my affection for this pie will last forever.’”

NMWA’s collection of artists’ books now comprises more than 1,000 unique books and limited editions in a variety of formats, from scrolls and accordions to codices and sculptures. The museum has placed artists’ books prominently in its collection and exhibitions, often integrating thematically related artists’ books into presentations of works in other mediums.
Happy Pi(e) Day!

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