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Nicole Donnelly

Altered Book:

The Anthropology of Turquoise, Ellen Meloy (2002)

Partially deconstructed hardbound book covered in wax and dirt.

Artist Statement

Ellen Meloy’s The Anthropology of Turquoise is partially a memoir and partially a curious portrayal of the land, people, flora, and fauna associated with the desert. The intertwining stories, often bound together by turquoise, present a deep love and obsession for a place that Meloy connects to through color, touch, and light. 

I chose to turn the physical book into something that resembles the land itself. Layers of paper and wax bury and conceal Meloy’s words, and erosion reveals the trace of her thoughts on a landscape that is more than barren desolation.

It seems impossible that the bleached desert air,

the tawny rock and sand, could have held in its skin a stone the

color of a parrot’s wing.

Perhaps to know so familiar a place 

it must become strange again.

the taste of a spring hidden in 

acres and acres of flat-out, bone dry rock and sand.

a bajada taking on the mauve shadow of dusk

Set against the

palette of desolation, a piece of turquoise is like a hole 

open to the sky.

Short Bio

Nicole Donnelly uses painting, printmaking, and book arts to explore the feeling of moving through and being fascinated with natural landscapes. Currently based in Reno, Nevada, she focuses on the space, light, and form of the desert. When she’s not thinking about the desert, she’s usually dreaming of its cousin—the ocean.

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