Abby Christensen


  • Signatures / Lines


Often, contemporary theory uses the words “reader” and “viewer” some­what inter­changeably, and I wanted to investigate that relationship closer, specifically in its physical manifestation. As a reader of a text, we are required to have a somewhat intimate physical relationship with the book, the carrier of the text. This constant touch creates a unique pattern of wear on the object that is a visible record of the community using it. The library card, while outdated, is the most direct record of this community effort and makes the reader aware of the absent yet very present pre­vious readers of the same book, as well as existing as a beautiful object.

The lines created on these library cards were often made in haste, without thought to aes­thetics. They existed merely as a means of record-keeping, but now that a digital library record is kept, the objects have become relics. To signify this change in function, the lines were traced with embroidery, a laborious and time-intensive manner of line making. Embroidery emphasizes the human touch that initially created the lines with such little thought. The variety of letters (angular, loopy, legible, and illegible) created by the readers of these texts, creates almost a sampler of lines and letters, recalling traditional embroidery samplers. This takes the letters and names from meaning and responsibility into the realm of simply making lines.

Signatures/Lines was developed through a series of explorations of the role of the reader in the library setting.


Hailing from the wild west, Abby Christensen made Chicago her home in 2011 following her graduation from Trinity Christian College where she managed to both incur large library fines and stay on the librarian’s good side.

In her studio practice, Christensen uses a variety of med­iums, ranging from paper mache, to found trophies, to concrete. She has always found value in the history that an object develops through its use and the community of users around that object. Usually this interest will manifest itself in the form of found objects, often books. She is intent on making us aware of the community that we participate in, regardless of how hard we try to isolate ourselves through technology.

Her work has been included in shows both locally and internationally. When she isn’t making work, she sells fancy teas and bakes cookies. She also now has large fines at the Chicago Public Library and is probably on their bad side.


Found library cards, thread