Concrete Journals: Anne Hicks Siberell
April 15 – September 10, 2023
Among many other projects parallel to bookmaking and writing, artist Anne Hicks Siberell has been a visual diarist since the 1970s. Her Concrete Journals series, which she has been making since the 1970s, exist as a record of time, collaging elements of the artist’s life and encasing them in concrete.
Drawing inspiration from ancient cuneiform tablets, Siberell commits her diaristic collages to concrete–a literal and figurative manner of preserving the past. By deliberately shifting away from the clay tablets used to preserve cuneiform, her use of concrete allows materials and objects to be embedded within it as it hardens. The artist is also able to paint and carve the concrete “pages” after they have dried.
A large part of the artist’s process involves collecting and storing objects for future use within the journals. Once chosen, small toys, jewelry, shells, keys, spent tubes of paint, or ticket stubs are then collaged and ensconced in concrete as a way to preserve and solidify them. The material moves from an oozing liquid to an imposing solid, in the same way that our memories of events can shift from lucid clarity to opacity.
Serving as “memory jogs”, these diaristic records shift from the immensely personal to broader themes of travel, culture, current events, and social justice. Each entry is treated with the same care: they fit snugly in a custom-built wooden box. Most pieces also contain a sheet of vellum with a handwritten narrative or poem expanding upon the themes of the collage. Over the last three decades of making, Siberell has created several hundred entries. Separately, each piece serves as a chronicle of an event or a memory. Together, they paint an intimate portrait of the artist’s life.
Above Image: Anne Hicks Siberell, Flight, 2020. Photo courtesy of the Ola Hopper.
Anne Hicks Siberell was born in Los Angeles, California. She attended the University of California, the Chouinard Art Institute, the Silvermine College of Fine Arts, and the College of San Mateo. In addition to writing and illustrating books, Ms. Siberell worked for Victor Gruen Architects and Walt Disney Productions as an assistant art editor. She illustrated nine published books from the 1960s to 1980s. From 1985 to 2009, she authored and illustrated an additional four children’s books, two of which were translated into Arabic for international audiences. She is most noted for her woodcuts, etchings, and artist’s books made with her handmade paper. She has been awarded residencies at the American Academy in Rome in 2005, and the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Egypt in 2002. She has had numerous permanent and traveling exhibits throughout California, New York, and Washington, D.C.