I get so frustrated that time of year when the new phone books are delivered, laying sadly in a yellow plastic bag across the driveway. Not only are they heavy to lug to your house, but you have to throw out, cough, excuse me, recycle (let's be green here) and make room for the new ones. Sadly, our year-old phone books look like they are still hot off the press. And who uses phone books still? In the age of 411 and whitepages.com, isn't anyone who's anyone not listed in those 1 million page directory bibles anyways? Next year when I get my new ones I know right where to take them, right up to Mr. Alex Queral in good ole Motown Philadelphia.
Under the radar for an unbelievable fourteen years, The Telegraph recently brought sculptor Alex Queral to our attention. Alex makes portraits out of the bound pages of telephone books. How did he get started in phone book art? About 14 years ago, he was out searching for wood for a new sculpture and came upon a bunch of old phone books kicked to the curb for trash pickup. Alex obviously feels the same way about throwing away phone books as I do and decided to find another use for them, so he picked them up and began to practice carving on them.
Since he began practicing, Alex has developed his skills and is now known for caricature portraits of celebrities. Alex explains his reasoning for carving faces in his artist statement:
" I carve the faces out of phone books because I like the three-dimensional quality that results and because of the unexpected results that occur working in this medium. The three-dimensional quality enhances the feeling of the pieces as an object as opposed to a picture. In carving and painting a head from a phone directory, I'm celebrating the individual lost in the anonymous list of thousands of names that describe the size of the community. In addition, I like the idea of creating something that is normally discarded every year into an object of longevity."
I'm sure you're wondering, how the heck do you carve a face into a phone book? Is it magic? Alex first sketches the person's face on a peice of paper, then lays it over the phonebook. He uses a razor blade to then carve away the many pages of the phonebook to create a three-dimensional look.
These portraits do take time. Alex is able to do about two carvings per month. His work was recently on display at the Philadelphia Airport.
I'm totally digging Alex's work, are you?