Book Smart: “Seeing is Hearing” Opens SJU Gallery Season

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

PHILADELPHIA (August 6, 2013) — Danish installation artist Tom Bendtsen is known for creating architectural sculptures composed of books — thousands of them. “Seeing is Hearing,” on exhibit at Saint Joseph’s University Gallery Aug. 19-Sept. 20, will feature his drawings, a video and two new massive sculptures built on site from 6,000 books. An artist’s reception will be held Thursday, Sept. 5, 6-8 p.m.

In an ironic comment on the digital age, Bendtsen uses the spines of the books, one of the last bastions of printing, as pixels, arranging them by color. 

“Book bindings are Bendtsen's palette,” says Associate Gallery Director Jeanne Bracy. “He creates textural surfaces on his delicately balanced sculptures that fashion flowing color schemes. The books are used strictly as instruments to create form and imagery while leaving the books’ subject matter relationships to chance for intriguing consideration.”

Audiences can discern images created from the arrangement of the books’ spines — like a pixelated landscape or clouds in the sky — by stepping back from the sculptures. Up close, they can view little scenes created by small objects that are placed in the gaps between books.

“In all my work a balance is at odds,” says Bendtsen. “Initial contact with the work reveals a conflict between opposing forces: nature to nurture; confidence to desperation; strength to fragility; toxicity to purity; and contrasts of scale. This binary conflict is complicated by hidden, lateral lines of meaning — subtle complications that take the meaning of a work in unexpected directions.”

Based in Philadelphia, Bendtsen was born in Copenhagen. He received degrees from Camosun College in Victoria, B.C., the Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto, and an M.F.A. from the State University of New York at Buffalo. He has exhibited his work throughout North America and Europe in solo and group shows, and has received numerous grants and awards.

Saint Joseph’s University Gallery is located in Merion Hall on the James J. Maguire ’58 Campus at 355 N. Latches Lane in Merion Station, Pa. A campus map may be viewed online. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-7 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. For more information, call 610-660-1840 or visit the gallery website at

Media Contact

Patricia Allen, Senior Associate Director of Communications, 610-660-3240,


As Philadelphia's Jesuit, Catholic University, founded by the Society of Jesus in 1851, Saint Joseph's University provides a rigorous, student-centered education rooted in the liberal arts. SJU ranks as a top university in the Northeast, with a Phi Beta Kappa chapter in the College of Arts and Sciences and AACSB accreditation of the  Erivan K. Haub School of Business. The University is also deeply committed to the Jesuit tradition of scholarship and service, earning a place on the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll and the community engagement classification from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. With courses offered on campus and online, SJU prepares its more than 8,000 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students to lead lives of personal excellence, professional success and engaged citizenship.


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