María Carolina Ceballos


María Carolina Ceballos is a Colombian book artist with emphasis in bookbinding and artists’ books. She holds a BFA in Visual Arts from the Universidad de Bogotá Jorge Tadeo Lozano, and a Minor in Photography from the same university. On 2021, she graduated from the MFA in Book Arts at The University of Iowa, where she also worked as a book conservation technician and digital book design instructor. She has also worked as a paper conservator at the Archivo General de la Nación in Bogotá, and as an independent book artist under the name of Canto Press, with which she creates artists’ books, teaches bookbinding and sells hand bound goods. She has been the recipient of recognitions like the Caxton Club Grant Award 2020-2021, an MFA degree with distinction from the University of Iowa Center for the Book, and the Holle Award 2022. She has exhibited her work in various cities in Colombia, the United States and Japan, and some of her books can be found in collections at the University of Iowa, the University of Miami, University of Michigan, the University of Alabama, the University of California and others.

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In my artistic practice, I explore creative multilingual writing, music notation and performance, and also the formal possibilities of the book. With this in mind, I develop my pieces looking for the appropriate container for the concepts, making sure the idea of a “book” can be expanded in whatever narrative space the idea needs. To me, my artists’ books must be objects that leave in a performatic sphere, interacting with the reader and the space in special ways that show their body and the readers’.

I always think that my books will be read by a body, sometimes out lout, and sometimes, even, as songs or dances. The places where the text or images rest in the book, or the shapes they create, influence how the reader will experiment the book, the time spent with it, and how their body will react. Sometimes these reactions are intentional, and I write instructions or notations to expect some performatic expression, but sometimes I keep those expectations to myself, and the book and reader create, themselves, that performance that can be very intimate or very loud.


Roturas, 2024
“Roturas” is about my personal experience with skin-related issues, that have taken me to extremes in anxiety and other psychological problems. The book is a box covered in handmade paper, composed by a handwritten in Spanish and painted scroll, and then digitally printed on Japanese paper; a hand carved paper image that must be seen with light from behind, and an embroidered piece on paper. All 3 pieces related to how the anxiety works and how to manage it.

In this piece I explore length and patience in the reading of a book, as a metaphor to what we experience with anxiety. The book is beautiful but frustrating, delicate but strong. Just like our bodies and our minds. In the long stroll, the handwritten text dances with hand drawn lines and shapes, creating a sort of ambient and even notations for reading. At the end of each stanza, an abstract drawing that resembles geological maps and accidents, portraits the feelings of the skin and the mind going through the anxiety process.

Espacio, 2022
"Espacio" is an artist book written between September of 2021 and May of 2022, and made in July of 2022 in Bogotá. It is a box covered in paste paper, leather and digitally printed text on white paper.

It contains emotions, memories and thoughts around my grandparents and their old age. The book is about space and how it contracts with age. As we grow old, our vocal, physical and mind space becomes smaller, and just the memories we print in others stay in the largeness of the world.

I tried to experiment with the different openings and interactions of box-like elements like houses, jewelry boxes, furniture, etc. Those interactions contain parts of the poem and create a narrative that slows down the reading, and in doing so, the experience and conceptualization slows down too. This creates a dramatic effect and, when the reader gets to the end, the book as felt like a lifetime with all its ups and downs.

Fragmentos de Lluvia, 2021
“Fragmentos de Lluvia” is a graphic score/atists’ book for solo voice, choir and paper instruments. The piece is related to my roots of a city with constant rain –Bogotá–, oral and gold figures in indigenous peoples’ traditions, myths of mountain ranges, percussive rhythms and melodies coming from the soundscape. This book is a score for performing, a poem that sometimes is just for the reader and won’t be performed, and an instrument were elements of the book itself will be part of the soundscape.

The book is, too, a comment on my hand papermaking experience. All the imagery was made with pulp stencil, embedded silk thread, pulp painting and pochoir, with the text and annotations letterpress printed from photopolymer plates in a total score edition of 15. It has inclusions of handmade paper and embedded silk thread, and tabs on the fore edge to help reading made with handmade Japanese paper and foil stamping.

The piece is part of a research on the historical and creative relation between performance arts and book arts. It is a song to the rain, papermaking and music.

Un Libro, 2021
Un Libro is a book about the experience of being a woman bookbinder, book conservator and Colombian in the US. It has its own language; in the shape of a book, the printed content explains the process of bookmaking and conservation with words, lines of thread, pieces of paper, and lines of text made with pieces of languages.

I started writing this book as I was learning bookbinding and working as a book conservation technician. There is a performative act when crafting something, in this case, a book. The book connects with our body by its craft but also by itself. To name a book and its parts, is to recognize ourselves in it, its body is a mirror of ours. My body changes to accommodate to the bookbinding practice, and the book changes too, showing itself and its weakness at the conservation lab: books age. The job of a book conservator is my way of taking care of others. I take care of history, memories, imagination and knowledge; all coming from the human body, all engraved in books that, too, live in time and degrade in their many layers of materials.

This book is also part of a research about performance in the book arts. As a vocal performer myself, I introduce the voice of the bookbinder and their body in this piece. In terms of performance and notation, this book translates the fineness of the thread to the lightness of dancing bodies and fragmented voices and languages, the hybrid-language writing translates to a fluent constant shift in the interpretation of words.

The standard edition is handbound with a letterpress printed paper cover on a slotted tape binding. The deluxe edition, comes with one fine bound bradel binding book with digitally printed photographs on Japanese paper, and handmade paper, leather and thread in-lays and on-lays, and one copy of the standard edition in a clam shell box with cradle, to allow for future collaborative performances between readers and performers.

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