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Throwing the Book at Dangerous Art

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"What is there about art that endows it with such provocative properties?" asked Dr. Michael Ryan, director of special collections at Van Pelt Library, during a recent panel discussion on "Dangerous Art." That discussion by a group of scholars and artists kicked off an exhibition of "bookworks" titled "Raised Aloft: The Question of Tolerance." It runs through August 1 in the library's Rosenwald Gallery and features books that were transformed into works of visual art by Florida artists Joe Nicastri and Sherri Tan.
   "We love books," said Tan. But Ryan recounted that "a couple of very intelligent, very sensitive and thoughtful people who work downstairs in the loading dock were deeply offended by what they saw. In the words of one of them: 'It's OK for you people' -- meaning us educated types that wear ties -- 'because you understand what's going on. But what about us jerks down below who take it seriously? Aren't you telling us that it's OK to deface books?'"

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Copyright 1998 The Pennsylvania Gazette Last modified 5/12/98