Dawn Peterson Artist Statement and Bio


Working with and combining unusual materials and textures is integral to my work. Recycling and reusing objects is important too. I like to combine traditional materials with a past, add current technology as well as transforming the shapes of the books. 

“TJ’s Seed; A History of a President” addresses the extensive study of seeds and plants by Thomas Jefferson. But it is also a metaphor for his interactions with his slaves, particularly Sally Hemmings. I read Fawn M. Brodie’s book while living in Charlottesville, VA and frequently visiting Monticello during the restoration of his gardens. TJ and Sally had six children, 4 survived. After at least two centuries of controversy, the evidence is clear regarding their relationship and the paternity of Sally Hemings’ children and their descendants today. Tj is their ancestor.  Size 3 x 8 x 2.25” $850

“A Lifetime of Don’ts” is about how women were medically attended to when they were pregnant almost 100 years ago. The beaded, folded paper vessel is similar to the size and shape of a face powder bowl in my grandmother’s bedroom. The medical approach to pregnancy then was almost comical and sad at the same time. The list in the work came from a medical book in 1924.  NFS  5 x 6 x 7”

“Balance of Nature” This work is based on Rachel Carson’s quote about nature and balance. She was a pioneer in studying and sounding the alarm about the dangers ahead for the environment. Her well know book Silent Spring was published in 1962. This work is 3d printed iron which will rust over time and book pages which will also deteriorate. Currently exhibited in Reclamation: Artists’ Books and the Environment, San Francisco Center for the Book  $950   9 x 5.25 x 5”

“Mapping Loss” I live on a barrier island in Georgia and it is disappearing. The ocean is encroaching, and some have lost their homes in recent hurricanes. This work was based on a study that projects into the next decades and shows how much of the island will disappear as sea levels rise.  Laser cut papers are layered to show the height of the land. Closed 1 x 8.5 x 6” $750

“Elemental Ridges” is about altering the pages of a book and adding texture of sewn thread. It is reminiscent of mountains and crevices in nature. NFS size H 9.5 x W13 x D6.26” 

Dawn Peterson Artist Statement

Working with and combining unusual materials and textures is integral to my work. Recycling and reusing objects such as books is important too. I like to combine materials with a past, add various textures as well as transforming the shapes of the books. To me a book is a vessel full of knowledge. The concept of the vessel, it’s history and the creative process inspire me to take materials out of context and redefine objects like a book and turn it into a visual receptacle. The metaphor of the vessel can represent knowledge, the environment, the feminine, and a journey, whether it’s full or empty is magical!

My work is frequently about the environment and how we need to protect and consider our impact. But working with technology and combining it with traditional materials along with books is important in my work and not necessarily an anathema or contradiction to the climate issues we face. The PLA that is used in the 3d printing is a bioplastic made with natural materials such as corn and sugarcane. So, conveying environmental concepts in my books to express the ideas is accomplished with a variety of materials. Taking ideas out of context and rethinking them visually has always been a concentration.

My work has been published in 500 Handmade Books, Hand Papermaking magazine, American Artist, and various websites. My artwork is in many public and private collections such a college and university libraries as well as companies and individuals.

I live on a Georgia barrier island and I am a professor at the Savannah College of Art and Design where I teach drawing, and the design elements and principles. I am a member of the College Book Arts Association and North American Hand Papermakers.
Thank you for reading my statement!

Thank you for reading my statement! My website is