Saribenne Evesong artwork collection
Scope and Content of the Collection
The collection is comprised of paper works, watercolors and an autobiography, The Teacher Within: An Intimate Story of Inner Discover and Healing. The paperworks include watercolors, artists books/bookworks and art objects.
- Creation: 1971-1978, undated
- Evesong, Saribenne (Person)
Restrictions on Access
Collection is open for research use.
Terms Governing Use and Reproduction
Georgia State University is the owner of the physical collection and makes reproductions available for research, subject to the copyright law of the United States and item condition. Georgia State University may or may not own the rights to materials in the collection. It is the researcher's responsibility to verify copyright ownership and obtain permission from the copyright holder before publication, reproduction, or display of the materials beyond what is reasonable under copyright law. Researchers may quote selections from the collection under the fair use provision of copyright law.
Biography of Saribenne Eversong
The artist who became known as Saribenne Evesong was born Saribenne Thomas in Jackson, Mississippi on January 30, 1931, to Benjamin Thomas and Delphia Sue Thomas. She grew up mostly in Baytown, Texas, but spent summers with her grandmother in rural Montgomery County, Mississippi. She moved to Memphis, Tennessee at age 18.
As an artist, her main focus was paper and bookworks, and watercolors.
As described in detail below, she lived and worked in Madison, Wisconsin from 1954-1974; Athens, Georgia from 1974-1978; Carbondale, Illinois from 1978-1983; Atlanta, Georgia from 1983-2004; and Mt. Vernon, Illinois from 2004-2009. Upon her first marriage, in 1950, she took the name Saribenne Korbach, and under that name created her earliest still-existent artwork. She moved to Madison, Wisconsin in 1954, and eventually earned four degrees from the University of Wisconsin, Madison: B.S. in Art (1958), M.S. in Art (Painting and Sculpture, studying with Professor Warrington Wickham Colescott for painting, and Professor Leo Steppat for sculpture) (1960), M.F.A. in Art (Painting) (1962), and M.S. in Studies in Behavioral Disabilities (1969). Her thesis, “Four Process Variables in Counseling with Mentally Retarded Clients” was published in American Journal of Mental Deficiency, Vol. 77, No. 4, 408-414 (1973).
She taught Elementary Art to students at Sherman Elementary School in Madison, Wisconsin in 1963-1964, then taught Secondary Art to students at Sherman Junior High School, also in Madison, in 1964-1965. On June 12, 1966, the artist married journalist Vernon A. Stone, and took the name Saribenne Stone. Her daughter was born in 1967, and her son in 1968. From 1972 until 1974, she taught Beginning Watercolor and Advanced Watercolor at Madison Area Technical College. In an interview published in the October 6, 1975 issue of the University of Georgia Community News, ahead of her Painted Forms solo exhibition at the University of Georgia Institute of Ecology in Athens, Georgia, she described her recent works as being inspired by the “beautiful verticals, diagonals, turnings, and curvings of Georgia trees.” The works are described by the interviewer as “strips of painted canvases, which are hung at angles to explore changing interior spaces and the use of edges as lines.” Saribenne explained, “In these pieces, I have used changing interior spaces, closed and open intervals, references to ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ self-cast shadows within a piece, and subtle modulations in surface color.”
In 1977, she began to work with handmade papers. She first made her own paper with the assistance of Charles Morgan at Elderbridge Handmade Papers in Athens, Georgia, using traditional processes and employing deckles, molds, large vats, and a press. She later used a more intimate hand-forming process, during which she sometimes drew directly into the wet, newly formed paper, and later added penetrating wire.
Her 1980 solo exhibition, Bookworks, at Franklin Furnace in New York City was highlighted by acclaimed art critic Kay Larson (author of “Where the Heart Beats: John Cage, Zen Buddhism, and the Inner Life of Artists”) in the February 4, 1980 issue of The Village Voice. Larson referred to Saribenne’s works as “highly personal female/feminist reactions to men” that were “often rolled diploma-style both to hide and certify their contents.”
In 1981, following her divorce from Vernon Stone, Saribenne changed her last name to Evesong, “out of respect for who she was and as a statement of her independence...She chose the name because Eve was the mother of all females.” She remained Saribenne Evesong for the rest of her life.
In a program written by the artist Steven T. Jones to accompany the 1981 iteration of the solo exhibition Bookworks at University Museum, Faner Hall, at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois, Saribenne is quoted as saying, “I make visual and sculptural bookworks in which language functions both as line drawing and as allusion.” She added that her bookworks were “connected to life; sometimes the conceptual theme is political, sometimes lyrical or poetic. I want my work to be a celebration of the life force, but when there is oppression or suffering, then I want my art to reflect those aspects of life also.” Jones describes the work “Generations” as “a book of fragments of the past with words from a baby book and the father’s letters written across a rising, printed column of summer memories.” The work “Artist Book C” is described as “a highly personalized work referring to an anonymous artist referred to only as ‘C.’” Jones notes that all of her work “explores the historical role of the book as authority, social prescription, and repository of myth and belief while using the written word as image and multi-layered symbol.” Jones adds that the bookworks “have about them an air of quiet mystery, intimacy, and an enigmatic quality that requests the viewer to contemplate a softly whispered message, yet one that insists on being recognized.”
In an interview published in the March 11, 1981 issue of the Daily Egyptian newspaper during the exhibition, she described her work as “primarily feminist” and noted that her work “Apple Book” is a “reinterpretation of the creation myth.” In it, Eve is depicted not as someone who brought evil into the world, but as someone who has helped humanity by “choosing wisdom and adulthood over ignorance.” She added, “All the books reinforce each other,” and that each one “is like a moment of life – it’s just a fragment that can be understood only when put in perspective.”
She continued to exhibit her work around the world throughout the 1980s. Her last exhibit during her lifetime was in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1993. By that time, her physical health had begun to deteriorate.
To support herself, and fund her art, throughout her life Saribenne worked as a teacher, counselor training divorced homemakers, bank teller, and computer programmer. In her unpublished memoir, The Teacher Within: An Intimate Story of Inner Discovery and Healing, Evesong stated, “I knew how to express myself, articulated in images of anger and hurt, images often of blinded, sutured-together or wire-pierced eyes...I meant these works to be understood as feminist political images pointing to the way women were desired to be submissive, to be ‘blinded’ to their own needs, to serve the purposes of men.” “I talked about the meanings underlying the words on my paintings and bookforms, how they could only be understood from each viewer's perspective -- as all life can only be understood through the filters of our individual perspectives...But we can attempt to share our perspectives...That is why I made bookforms, and paintings like pages torn from books. Books carry information. Books witness. They tell stories about who we are and how we live, individually and as a people. These books/paintings were about myself and other women who lived in my time, how we experienced our lives.”
Saribenne Evesong died in Mt. Vernon, Illinois, on November 30, 2009, from complications related to Alzheimer’s disease. Her son is the author and filmmaker Adam E. Stone, and pieces of her work are also featured in two of his works: her piece “Your Face Before Me” is featured in Stone’s 2010 DVD novel Cache Girl Saves the World: A Novel in Visions. Her pieces “Purple Book,” “Love Searching Without Maps,” “Red Cover Book,” “Night Dances,” and “Apple Book” are featured prominently as thematic elements in Stone’s 2019 short experimental film Declarations, which has been described as follows: “Inspired by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), and the art and writing of feminist painter Saribenne Evesong, ‘Declarations’ uses art, and the art of movement, to examine empathy as a facilitator of sustainable love, peace, and justice.” Saribenne Evesong is the inspiration for Stone’s 2012 spoken-word ballet A Life Unhappening, which is about the impact of one woman’s Alzheimer’s disease on three generations of her family. She is also seen in some of the home movie footage in Stone’s 2018 short experimental film Gods Die Too.
- Black Works of Handmade Paper by Saribenne Stone, Atlanta, Georgia, 1978
- Bookworks by Saribenne Stone, New York, N.Y., 1980
- Bookworks by Saribenne Evesong, Carbondale, Illinois, 1981
- Southeast-Northeast Exchange, Hartford, Connecticut, 1978
- Formed Papers, Boston, Massachusetts, 1978
- Watercolor U.S.A. '78, Springfield, Missouri, 1978
- Papers as Medium, Smithsonian traveling exhibition, 1978-1981
- Visual and Sculptural Bookworks, Montclair, N.J., 1979
- Papermaking and Bookbinding, Omaha, Nebraska, 1979
- The Book as Art III, Washington, D.C., 1979
- Would You Believe It's Made of Paper?, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1979
- Artists' Books, U.S.A., Tokyo, Japan, 1979
- Artists' Books, Montreal, Canada, 1979
- The Book as Art, New Rochelle, N.Y., 1979
- Visual and Sculptural Bookworks, Richmond, Virginia, 1980
- Pages Plus: Artists' Bookworks, Kansas City, Missouri, 1980
- Bookworks: New Approaches to Artists' Books, touring exhibition, 1981-1982
- Words and Images: A Contemporary Survey of Artists' Books, touring exhibition, 1981
- Artists' Books, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1981
- Artists' Books: From the Traditional to the Avant Garde, touring exhibition, 1982
- American Bookworks, Madrid, Spain, 1982
- Making Paper: The Handmade Paper Book, traveling exhibition, 1982-1984
- Books that Artists Make, Cleveland, Ohio, 1984
- Reverence/Irreverence, Atlanta, Georgia, 1986
- A Farewell to Nexus, Atlanta, Georgia, 1989
- Women With Words, Atlanta, Georgia, 1993
21 Linear Feet (in 49 boxes)
Language of Materials
The collection is comprised of paperworks, watercolors and an autobiography.
Organization of the Collection
Organized into 2 series: I. Artwork, II. Manuscript materials.
Donated by Alice Young, May 2006.
Processed by Sara Legree and Morna Gerrard at the file level, 2008.
- Saribenne Evesong:
- A Guide to Her Artwork Collection at Georgia State University Library
- Georgia State University Library
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description