Get acquainted with steampunk artwork

Get acquainted with steampunk artwork

I first learned about steampunk when I read a young adult book in this genre titled "The Hunchback Assignments" by Arthur Slade. Anyone who has seen the movies "Wild, Wild West" or "The League of Extraordinary Gentleman" has encountered steampunk, too.

It turns out this is a wildly popular form of art, on the Internet especially, and it is inspiring artists — from sculptors to jewelry makers, from fashion designers to painters.

Steampunk artist Art Donovan, who co-owns Donovan Design with his wife, Leslie, wrote "The Art of Steampunk" after curating the world's first museum steampunk exhibit at Oxford University's Museum of History of Science. In the publisher's foreward, Alan Giagnocavo of Fox Chapel Publishing states that Donovan finds "sheer joy and delight" in steampunk and enjoys finding and promoting other artists.

This is exactly what "The Art of Steampunk" does in beautiful, interesting photographs with descriptions. Most of the book is full of what people want to see: the art. A few informational written pieces also are included in the book.

In the introduction, Donovan explains the genre to anyone who isn't familiar with it.

He writes, "Steampunk is a unique fantasy version of 19th-century Victorian England, now imbued with high-tech digital devices, fantastic steam-powered machines and all manner of surreal electro-mechanical contraptions that could only have been conjured by a mad 21st-century scientist."

Then he shares some of his extraordinary light fixtures, which is what his company is the most known for, as well as other art of his. After Donovan's display, new artists to this revised second edition are featured, including Ann Pedro, an award-winning jewelry designer, and Anna Dabrowska, a Polish artist.

Dabrowska is especially intriguing because she uses mixed media to create her designs.

In her bio, Donovan writes, "She creates paper and canvas layouts, collages and altered art, tags, journal pages and much more. She loves texture and flea markets and believes in the power of recycling and upcycling."

For all the scrapbookers out there, Dabrowska uses the embellishments found in the aisles of Michaels and Jo-Ann Fabrics & Crafts on her art to create three-dimensional texture in a steampunk style. The photos of her pieces are simply beautiful.

While flipping through this book, which is perfect for a coffee table, readers will be amazed at the intricate detail some of the artists go to creating their steampunk art.

Readers also can find out more about the genre in the middle of the book with the essay by G. D. Falksen, an author and public speaker, titled "Steampunk 101." This essay answers questions: What is steampunk? Where did it come from? Where does the sci-fi come in? Where does steam come in? Where does the punk come in? And more.

The book concludes with the 17 artists who were part of the Oxford exhibition. In this section, each artist is featured with a short bio and several photographs of their art. Readers will find some strange contraptions on these pages, including a robot sculpture with a red taxidermy glass eye, a rubber band gun and a clockwork heart.

If you enjoy sci-fi and history, you love art that borders on the bizarre or you've read steampunk books and can't get enough of the genre, then "The Art of Steampunk: Revised 2nd Edition" is something you'll want to pick up soon.

Margo L. Dill is the author of "Finding My Place: One Girl's Strength at Vicksburg," a middle-grade historical fiction novel. She often reviews books as a columnist for "WOW! Women On Writing" e-zine and her blog, "Margo Dill's Read These Books and Use Them" (http://margodill.com/blog/). She lives in St. Louis with her family.

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