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Dead Books

Man in the Moon

  LaVona Sherarts..... 

Artist Statement
In 1949 I was told in technical/vocational school that I could not become an auto
mechanic because that was only for boys, so I entered the printing department and
began to learn how to make and restore books. Later I joined the international mailart
network and discovered artists' bookmaking. I had the equipment, skills, and a bunch
of ideas, so I got involved. Eventually I began teaching artist books in United States
schools and to groups of European artists. Collaborating with artists is a big attraction
for me.


Numerous local, state, regional and national exhibits.

Visiting Artist
2004-2007         Finland Bookmaking Workshop
2000-2001         St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud, MN, Artist Book Workshop
                            Atwater Elem. School, Atwater, MN, Visiting Artist, Bookmaking
1999                   Cokato Viewfinder's Club, Visiting Artist, Bookmaking
1997                   St Cloud State University, St Cloud, MN, Artist Book Workshop
1996                   McKinley Elem. School Waite Park, MN, Artist In Residence
1995                   Monroe Elem. School, Mankato, MN, Artist In Residence
1991-2007         St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud, MN, Women in the Arts
                            St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud, MN, Photography
1990                   St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud, MN, Watercolor

1951                   Diploma, Minneapolis Vocational High School and

                            Technical Institute

1987-88            DOMUS (transitional housing for the homeless),
                           St. Cloud, MN, Program Supervisor
1982-87            Guild Residences, St. Paul, MN, Mental Health Worker

Trash to Treasure (excerpt) by Kristin Gustafson, Times Staff Writer, April 20, 2003

During the Depression, LaVona Sherarts rolled up her socks in the winter and rolled
them down in the summer.

Her families' farm home had no electricity or water. Her clothes were cut from sugar
sacks and rags.

She used horse-hide blankets to keep warm.

Weekly she listened to a show on the radio powered by the families' car battery.

The girl who would become a St. Cloud photographer and visual artist spent her
childhood practicing how to draw by copying the Sunday funnies on to used grocery

So it should be no surprise that reusing items for art ranks high among Sherart's
priorities in life.

"I want to make art from things of the past and present," she said. "I don't want to make things for interior design."

She wants to make art that is unique.

At 69, Sherarts is not afraid to dive into area trash bins to find the perfect piece of
cardboard. After a few cuts and a couple of wraps of duct tape, she can create a one-
of-a-kind portfolio.

"I make those and show the students at St. Cloud how to do it," she said, "because
they don't have a lot of money and can get into dumpsters real easily for cardboard."

It's not that Sherarts is afraid to spend money.

She insists she keeps current with the high-end computer and technical equipment for her photography. But she thinks twice about things she wants instead of needs.

"I just don't want to waste that stuff because generations from now it won't be here," she said.

"I'm known as a gutter girl," Sherarts said with a smile. "I look at things that are used or old or trash and say ' I can use that.' "

She showed off a few of her art pieces, including a dusty brown-and-tan book wrapped
with rusted wire Sherarts found in East Berlin. Its binding reads: "Binge des Manten
furften." She won't explain the art's meaning as her eyes twinkle with mystery.

Sherarts pulls out a blank-paged book. It is wrapped with a 3-inch chunk of material
that fell from a building during one of her European adventures.

"You know that it took a lot of people to make this piece on this building. You know it is just going to lay there and probably get thrown away," she said. "Why waste this?"

Another book uses dominoes for its cover, opening like an accordion with music on the paper instead of words.

She teaches how to make books out of anything. And she makes collaborative art books, sending two unfinished books to artists from around the world. They add their touches and then return the finished pieces to her. She adds covers and sends one back to the artist.