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Mercator III by Raymond Papka, Unique Altered Book Sculpture



Mercator III, 2012

Unique Altered Book Sculpture by Raymond Papka

FINE Condition

Sculpture Details:  “Mercator III” is a mixed media assemblage that consists of an altered book, encaustic medium, paper, pigments, metal, images and found objects. The story underlying the “Mercator III” altered book is described by Ray Papka as follows:

“I begin each piece of art that I do with a preconceived title so a story is unfolds from my mind as the altered book evolves. I have always been intrigued by maps, especially historical maps, exploration, and travel. I decided to undertake this piece of altered book art entitled “Mercator” as homage to one of the earliest and greatest cartographers, Gerardus Mercator; he was also a philosopher and mathematician. I have done other altered books themed by great historical figures such as Leonardo da Vinci, Newton, Galileo, Copernicus, etc.

Mercator produced a particular map of the world in 1569 based on a new projection which represented sailing courses of constant bearing as straight lines. He was the first to use the term Atlas for a collection of maps. This altered book is done using an old road atlas as a substrate to keep in accord with Mercator’s cartography.

The upper map on this piece is a vintage map depicting the way Mercator may have viewed the world as a flat surface and with few (relatively) details. This is contrasted with the lower map which is newer (circa 1913) map of lower Manhattan of NYC depicting the detailed grid-pattern of more modern maps. The old map and new map are bridged by a rusted metal piece that symbolizes the effect of salty air on metal.

Exploration was necessary in order for cartographers to obtain information to produce their maps. A number of embellishing elements are symbolic of exploration and navigation. The large piece at the top center of the book is constructed as a hypothetical mariner’s navigational device and in the lower right niche are a number of items representing potential spare parts for the navigational devices. In addition, the pendulum and central map piece also symbolize mariner’s devices.  In exploration by ship, the captain’s log was the most important item that he kept – the simulated lock and key on the right middle side of the book symbolize this important fact and the book itself symbolizes the log book. Finally, there is a scale and a mile marker on the book to keep with the theme of the map and cartography. My altered books are embellished with objects to represent hinges and knobs to simulate the idea that they open, whereas in fact they are sealed shut.

The book sculpture measures 15.25” x 11.25” x 2.5”

 About the Artist:  Ray Papka creates incredible works of art from old books. His art is mixed media and combines assemblage, encaustic painting, the use of books and wood panels as substrates, and found objects as relevant embellishments. The beeswax of encaustic painting allows him to generate layers of information in his artwork, but keep it mysterious....almost dreamy and historical. He employs found objects to embellish a piece that is reinvented as a retrospective, pleasant and, sometimes, functional piece of art. His art takes many forms, but keeps a theme of changes, of layers, of old, of memories, of looking back and of reutilization. The artwork he produces ranges from subtle or mysterious to bold and brash.

Ray is a self-taught artist. He completed undergraduate studies at the University of Wyoming (B.S. Zoology and Chemistry) and graduate studies at Tulane University (Ph.D. Anatomy and Neuroscience).

Condition Report: The book sculpture is in FINE condition.

A photograph of the book sculpture appears in the photo section of the listing.