The Sun Valley Center for the Arts' exhibition, "What We Keep: An Exhibition on Books and Memory," has created an extension to the multidisciplinary project at The Center in Hailey entitled "Silver Lining: Pass Mine Artists' Books." The exhibit features several artists' books, which will be on display through Oct. 11.
The Pass Mine, located in the Mineral Hill Mining District 12 miles west of Hailey, was a working mine owned by Nancy and Horace Thurber, more commonly known as Nan and Hog, from 1884 through 1899 until it was shut down by Nan due to the death of her husband.
The regional history that is presented through the artists' books is based on the journal and cyanotype blue-tinted photographs of Henry Webster Aplington, a 14-year old boy from Massachusetts who in 1895 spent the summer in Hailey with his Aunt Nan and Uncle Hog.
In 1994 the Pass Mining Company donated its holdings to Boise State University, which included Aplington's journal, photographs and hundreds of documents including personal family materials as well as public and legal papers all relating to the history and operation of the Pass Mine.
Boise State University English professor Tom Trusky found the archives to be a worthy course of study for graduate Book Art students, which eventually led to the current exhibition at The Center in Hailey. The exhibition represents student work from 2000 through 2006.
"I didn't really know about mining or geology," Trusky said. "I was really touched by this journal. The family donated property, and I got the journal and photographs."
Trusky typed up the journal and had it scanned so his students could use either version of the document and all the materials in the archives to create a type of book.
"There are famous mines, and this is not one of them," Trusky said. "It may appear as an unpromising subject matter, a footnote in history, but now it has been made important."
The project is sponsored by the Idaho Center for the Book, which focuses on handmade books, by Idaho bookmakers.
The artists' books reveal everything from the accordion design of "The Pass Mine: A Collectable Two-Book Set" by James Ross Orr with an actual piece of ore found at the Pass Mine to a mini archive called "Tailings," by Catherine Fraser Allen. Allen created a "box book," which reveals loose-leaf pages replicating the texture and color of the original documents found in the donated archive.
Other artists' books include maps and beading as well as a reference to "Indian Disturbances" a profound recording from Aplington's journal. The artists' books represent several book art design processes.
"Each one is so very different and inspiring," said Trusky. "There is a lesson in artists' books within the show."
The Center in Hailey is open from noon to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more details, call 726-9491 or visit sunvalleycenter.org.