Collaborative Bookworks

Lyall Harris & Patricia Silva, 2014-2017


There is an intangible component to every successful creative collaboration. Why do the partners connect? What makes their co-created work seamless? How can combined efforts transform a creative project into something more than just the sum of its parts?

A year after having met in Florence, Italy, book artists Lyall Harris and Patricia Silva embarked on a series of twelve collaborative book art projects.

From the beginning, the artists set constraints for the process, both of materials and time, which forced them to work in an immediate, intuitive and exploratory way. Their process began with one artist providing the inspiration and starting materials, such as saved remnants, quotes, and ideas previously set aside. The receiving artist then had only weeks to bring the project to a “halfway” point, adding or editing materials sparingly during this phase. The project was then given back to the originating artist who finished the books (in an edition of 2) in a few weeks’ time.

The varied work addresses issues and histories from their shared and layered perspectives as artists, mothers, daughters, wives, and expats in a changing and complex environment. Their collaborations, which have since grown to include sculpture and photography, point to a unified aesthetic, as if made by one hand. More than a set intention, this is a natural outcome of their work together.


2018 exhibitions:

39th Annual Paper in Particular, Columbia College, Columbia, MO (Feb 19-March 30, 2018)

Strutture Aperte: Libri d'Artista / Open Structures: Artist Books, Temple University Rome Campus, Rome, Italy (Feb 20-March 1, 2018)

Ink, Press, Repeat, William Paterson University Galleries, Wayne, NJ (April 2-May 9, 2018)

Rising Together, sponsored by College Book Art Association, traveling exhibition (dates TBA)


2017 exhibitions:

Meeting Places; Luoghi d'incontro: 12 books & a selection of work from Passato Prossimo, San Francisco Public Library (June 10-Sept 14, 2017). Opening reception June 15, 5-7pm; Artists' Talk 6pm.

Passato Prossimo: Harris and Silva built this exhibition of sculpture, photography and text on the theme of nostalgia. The artists worked in the gallery space in a real-time, “performance” residency, using donated objects and ephemera resulting from an open call for materials. SRISA Gallery, Florence, Italy (March 23-April 21, 2017). Opening reception April 5, 6:30pm.

Meeting Places / Luoghi d'incontro: a selection of 8 bookworks, Jefferson-Madison Regional Library, Crozet, VA (Jan 31-March 14, 2017). Artist's Talk Feb 22, 7pm.

Conspire: Collaboration, Cooperation, Collection: Florida State University, College Book Art Association's juried members' exhibition (Jan 13-Feb 10, 2017).

Degrees of Innovation, San Francisco Center for the Book, San Francisco, CA (Oct 13, 2017-Jan 14, 2018)

Assemblage: A Collection of Works by UArts Faculty and Alumni, Philadelphia, PA (Nov 27, 2017-Jan 12, 2018)



Passato Prossimo

Donated objects of nostalgia re-imagined into 8 still lifes with corresponding texts

The Things That Ride Out Time

A poetic look at mundane and ephemeral objects and what, ultimately, will ride out time


A game of questions and answers about the "Mysteries of the Universe"

Notes from Overseas

A multi-part project of written and visual records about memory

The Dreamer, The Doer

Craft and perfectionism; a productive life versus a poetic one

A Concise Encyclopedia of Unknown Things That Belong Together

Unexpected narratives unfold and intersect in an "encyclopedic" format of text and image

Without Fault; Sans Défauts

The feminine ideal is examined via the artists' own case files

Daily Specials

A menu format functions as an ironic and disturbing framework for immigration narratives

Check The Box

A matching game made from partially recycled materials reveals jarring facts about organ transplantation

Paper Boats

A photo-documentary illustrates the distressing loss of identity taking place in contemporary mass immigration to Europe

Island & Inlet

An original fable offers a nugget of wisdom about the connectedness of everything

A Still Point

Fading images and sparse text echo one another in a tenuous hold against dissolution

Goodbye Girl (better photos coming soon!)