The current show at the Ben Maltz Gallery is called Binding Desire. When I first saw an advertisement for the show, it said “Unfolding Artist Books” and my first impression was:  “Oh? So is it just art books?”  However, when I entered the gallery space I realized I was wrong, they weren’t just books, they were pieces of art that were uniquely designed.

There were accordion books, flag books, pop-up books and much more. Many of these art pieces surprised me. For the first time it wasn’t just a regular gallery with paintings on a canvas.  Instead, they were printed on paper and formed into new shapes.

This particular piece by Arnaldo Pomodro interested me. What was it that he was trying to say? The artwork had me stumped, so I did some investigating.  The slotted cards are made out of mirrored paper that feature photographs and text.  In the photographs, the artist’s previous sculptures are depicted, giving us a general idea of what he specialized in.

As I continued on through the gallery, I noticed they also featured current student's book binding work as well. I never knew that current students were allowed to enter their work in the gallery at the school. I think it is great that Otis shows how much the value of student's work in this way. Through this exhibit, Otis also shows how it values its faculty.


Before spring break Katherine Sullivan had the opportunity to briefly interview the Communication Arts Assistant Chair, Barbara Maloutas. She presently has her work featured in the show.  

Where are you from? 
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Going into The Philadelphia College of Art, did you know what you wanted to major in?
Yes ,I knew I wanted to major in Graphic Design because I was involved in creating a publication there.

How was attending an art college during that time different than how it is now?
Because I went to art school with a lot of Liberal Arts credits, I had a lot of opportunities to take strange classes like jewelry making. I could have even taken glass blowing. I think I had more opportunities to do craft work.

Is it true that you previously taught at Otis?
Yeah, I was hired right off of Fairfax Avenue in 1988 by Ave Pildas. I was just walking with my family when that happened. I didn’t even expect to see him there.

While getting your Master’s Degree at the General Arts And Trades School (Allgemeine Kunstgewerbeschule) in Basel, Switzerland, you started to write, and while working at Otis you started to write poetry, in between that time did you know you wanted to start designing books?
I knew I wanted to design work that had to do with communication and words. Not just images. So, yes, I knew.

What inspired you to design your own books? 
There used to be a guy who taught here named Stephen Sidelinger and he studied book arts in France which is a little bit different than studying book arts in America. It’s more “art” than it is “design”. Steven taught me how to bind and I used to work with him in his classes so that’s when I started.

What do you mean by “more art than design”?
Steven didn’t care so much about following the constraints of paper, he would just make things work. He would push things to work whereas designers tend to create things that must cater to a bigger audience and follow more rules.

What new directions have you been taking with your work?
Recently, I’ve decided to loosen up the way things look visually. With current writing, you might not know where a poem begins or ends. I’ve realized that the people who are more successful now are very loose with how they make a poetic connection with the white space in front of them. It's not so “look at the words” but “feel the flow”, so I’ve changed a little bit recently, in that way, as the world changes.

Binding Desire ends on March 30th so make your way to the gallery before then. You won’t be disappointed!

Review by Jonathan G.
Interview by Katherine S.


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