Candida Pagan


Candida Pagan




Edition Size



Hand-painting, Watercolor




Artist Book


6 × 8 × 0.75 in

$ 1,800.00


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Dartmouth College, Rauner Library

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Libraries

The Pennsylvania State University (Penn State)

The University of the Witwatersrand, Wits Art Museum (WAM), Jack Ginsberg Centre for Book Arts

University of California, Irvine (UCI)

University of Central Florida (UCF)

University of Miami

University of Pittsburgh

Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU)

Nebula” is a handpainted artist’s book of 5×5 inch watercolor paintings on mylar polyester film. The imagery is amorphous and reminiscent of NASA photos of distant skies: an inexact illustration of space and the goings-on out there. Illustrations from the Walters MS73 and photographs and artists’ renderings from NASA’s social media Instagram account related to 20th and 21st-century astrophysics served as visual sources. Allusions to constellations and planetary paths through space are scattered throughout the book.

Watercolor on polyester film.

Etymologies, by Isidore of Seville (560-636CE), “contains a compendium of much of the essential learning of the ancient Greco-Roman and early Christian worlds”[1]. Book XIII of Etymologies addresses the “Circles of Heaven” and begins with, “Our dwelling place is divided into zones according to the circles of the sky…”[2]

The concept of a geocentric solar system held fast centuries until Copernicus published De Revolutionibus orbium coelestium in 1543, proposing the heliocentric model we believe in today[3]. What steps are necessary to change the way we understand the universe? Is it possible to backtrack? Certainly, missteps have been made in the process of defining a cosmology, the Earth is not the center of the universe, but the visual representations of misunderstanding are often providing entry into alternative modes of thinking.

Schematics of the paths of celestial bodies supplement informational texts from the beginning of cosmological study. How have these visual aids developed and worked to promote the spread of knowledge and the sharing of information? In both Nebula and related artists’ book Primum Mobile, the optical qualities of the material serve an important role in how the books are experienced. Looking through a single layer, a page seems clear, but accumulated pages become translucent and then nearly opaque. While reading the books, one looks into a strange mirror-like surface and is able to see that something exists but what is it is, is unclear. As the viewer pages through the book, under-layers become more visible, but beginning pages become obscured. New information replaces the old.

[1] Stephen A. Barney, “Introduction”, The etymologies of Isidore of Seville. (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 3.
[2] Barney, XIII, V. 7-ix, 273.
[3] Owen Gingerich, The Book Nobody Read: Chasing the Revolutions of Nicolaus Copernicus (New York: Walker & Company, 2004), 2.