The Disobedient Chicken: An Art Book by Christine Mannix

Cleveland Public Library Special Collections collects artist’s books created by local and regional artists. Artist’s books are works of art that transforms the concept or format of a book into an object of creative expression. They are often published in small editions or produced as one-of-a-kind.

The Disobedient Chicken is a contemporary fabric artist book created from a scanned and altered Victorian-era American children’s book originally published by R. Shugg & Co. of New York in the 19th century. The text is all original but the captions to the illustrations have been added by the artist. Little is known about the firm of R. Shugg & Co. other than being listed in the New York City directories as an engraver between 1858-1868 and in 1869 they were listed with the term “books”.  The title itself gives us insight to the fate of the chicken.

This artist book is one-of-a-kind, printed with archival inks on Egyptian cotton with an Epson 2200.  It is hand and machine stitched with silk, cotton, and polyester thread. Other materials include: bone, beads, black cotton edging, laid in a black clamshell box with The Disobedient Chicken illustration on the lid. Signed and dated by the artist. The artist states: “I’ve always loved reading old children’s books because their messages and morals are so alien to us now as to appear absurd. When I found the booklet of “The Disobedient Chicken” at a book and paper show, I thought it was hilarious as well as beautiful I thought, why should the chicken obey? She is just going to be used for her eggs and slaughtered in the end. I decided to make a quilted book because it seemed like an appropriately old-fashioned medium. I also love to hand-sew and have made art quilts, so this was a logical extension of that.”