Over the years making artist books has become a way for Karen Baldner to encapsulate ideas left unaddressed in her larger bodies of work. As such her books have become witnesses to the processes of her creative cycles. She looks at them as small emissaries of relatively large thought processes. The content of her books covers a gamut of ideas as they evolve from one body of work to another. Some examples: “One-Liner” grew out of a cycle called “Human Traces” which recorded and regrouped conscious and unconscious mark making. “Pax Omnibus Res” addresses angles of world conflict from the cold war to 9/11. “Fat Little Book” is about abundance and neglect, the central theme of her “Heartland” series. “Mix & Match” and “Homo Sapiens Sapiens” accompany an installation in progress called “Dis-Memberment and Remembering” in which she separates casts of body parts from their original structure and re-integrate them into new contexts. “German/Jew” accompanies a new body of work in which Karen addresses her dual identity as a Jew and a German. “Obituaries” and “Heimat” take on a more conscious witnessing role as they accompany a dialogue and have become a repository for a collective process.
Handmade paper is a staple material in Karen Baldner’s books. She says, “for me it references skin, a place into which life’s process inscribes itself for better or for worse. Thus I hope to provide my viewers with a means to viscerally participate in the witnessing process of my books, whether by touching and reading them or by simply experiencing them visually.”