Susan Joy Share

Paper Talk
Paper Talk
Susan Joy Share

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Susan Joy Share is an Alaska based visual artist, bookbinder and performer. Her passion for the book form, its structural variations, materials and potential for movement blends with her interest in sculpture, painting, sewing and collage. Susan creates an array of wearable books, figures and architectural forms. Her innovative, early performances with foldout sculpture connected the book with the human body.


I wasn’t familiar with the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act, an extension of the Works Progress Administration program from the 1930s, which Share participated in during the late 70’s.

We talked about her performance work, Unfoldings, created in 1985.

Unfoldings is an early, signature piece that combines sculpture, dance and mime. Built from the inside out using bookbinding and bookmaking techniques, it incorporates several structural ideas and experiments with book sounds and movement. The box opens, layer-by-layer, to spread across the floor in a spiral configuration. Each panel contains components that again unfold, revealing color, shapes and vertical constructions. In the end, it all folds back compactly as the last musical note sounds.

Her books are so unique, and this is one of many. Watch a video of this book in action.

Undergrowth, 2018, paper, acrylic, crayon, photos, wire, 16.6” x 16.5” x 1/4” closed, 16.5” x 32.5” x 15” open

Since moving to Alaska, Share has done several public art pieces. This is the tile work she completed for the public art project we discussed.

Handmade Tile Murals, South Anchorage High School, 2004, Municipal 1% for Art Program

Susan Share’s Recommendations:

A spring divider is a great tool for punching evenly spaced holes.

The book Braiding Sweet Grass by Robin Wall Kimmerer.

Paula Beardell Krieg’s blog, filled with tutorials and information about book and paper art.

Grow garlic! It is easy to grow and is a beautiful tall grass; you can eat the scapes and the cloves; it is plentiful so you can share seeds, making it a nice way to connect with others; in Alaska, the moose don’t eat it.

Visit Susan Share’s website to learn more about her work. You can also view some of her performances on Youtube.


Music featuring excerpts of Makin’ Paper folk song by Peter Thomas. Listen to the full song and find out about other paper and book arts folk songs.

Gary A. Hanson did the sound editing for this episode. He practices and refines his skills in audio production while making his own podcast I’ll Have a Beer and Talk, a show about tech news, culture, weird animal stories and of course, beer. Gary is also the Deckle in Pulp & Deckle, a Portland-based community hand papermaking studio.


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