Daniel E. Kelm and Timothy C. Ely
Kelm: American, 1951–; Ely, American, 1949–

Acrylic and ink on paper with acrylic polymer medium mixed with sand, collage, etched copper sheet, copper leaf, brass beads, stainless steel wire, felt, brass tubing, thread, and wire edge binding. Collection of Earl M. Collier, Jr. Photographs by Jeff Derose/One Match Films.

Terra Incognita

The mid- to late 1980s was a productive period for artists’ books in the United States. Interest in and support for both multiple and unique bookworks were at an all-time high, allowing artists to take chances on new forms and fully explore a range of creative ideas and techniques, all while continuing to support themselves with their work in a booming market. The advent of the first Gulf War and the crashing economy changed this dynamic quite suddenly. As a result, Kelm and Ely shelved a number of their creative personal collaborations in favor of devoting more time to commissions.

Terra Incognita was one of the projects shelved during the early 1990s. Similar in form to its sister book Rubeus, Terra Incognita appears to represent an alien world, complete with landmasses, oceans, and cryptic topographical markings.  The confluence of these vaguely familiar elements allows the viewer to fully engage with the work, slowly developing a relationship with this miniature “unknown land.”

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