A palimpsest is a physical page that is reused for a new document, where traces of the original text are still visible. Historically, these were made due to lack of resources, but Hawaii-based sculptor Jacqueline Rush Lee has been working in this vein for the last 18 years, disassembling and restructuring books into new forms that are both surreal and organic.

Her pieces, while still clearly composed of books, evoke other familiar images inspired by philosophy and nature: a cross section of a living cell, a peacock feather, a roll of sushi, a decomposing log, a smoldering fire. “Aesthetically,” she says, “I am inspired by objects that compel one to touch or be immersed within in order to ponder their significance and presence. I am also drawn to the poetry of objects and places that are at a point of decay or break down as remnants of their historical past and presence.”

She manipulates the books by rolling up individual sheets of paper and bending larger sections of pages, dying different parts, and firing the books in a kiln without the use of a clay or slip.

“I’m inspired by timeless conflicts and concerns of the human condition,” says Rush Lee, “Particularly, how it is as the role of the artist to try to uncover and reveal that which is unexplainable, unknowable, or at the edge of perception.”

Rush Lee’s work will be featured in a solo show at the Honolulu Museum of Art in the fall of 2017.