Beyond the cover: Emma Lehto reveals a book's true colours by cutting into them

"What you see on the cover is not necessarily what you're going to find underneath."

'What you see on the cover is not necessarily what you're going to find underneath'

(CBC Arts)

Vancouver-based artist Emma Lehto saves you from having to judge a book by its cover. By using a razor-sharp precision blade, Lehto carves out shapes from book covers to reveal the vibrant layers deep within.

"I cut all the way through," she says. "It creates this kaleidoscope of colour that I think tells me more about what's inside."

Before she slices into a cover, Lehto evaluates what she wants to accomplish before starting. "How can you remove what's there, but you're still left with this skeletal frame?" she asks. "How can I get that from this front image and that's it?"

Watch the video:

Art Minute: Emma Lehto

6 years ago
Duration 1:05
“What you see on the cover is not necessarily what you’re going to find underneath”

Lehto finds that she's particularly drawn to working with text art and paper. "I'm really fascinated by information design, the feel of the page and the thickness of the paper," she describes — but there's more to it than that. Most of her work centres around books and print, testing its limits physically in all sorts of different ways to transform it into something new. That might mean cutting through it, or trying to dissolve it in Coca Cola, or something even more extreme — she once shot a copy of War and Peace.

Lehto finds a strong sense of comfort and assurance in the materials she's working with, giving her confidence in her work. "That tactility is touching. I've always been drawn to doing that," she adds. "Maybe it's the sense of security in a sense of knowing where I am."

See more of Lehto's work below:

(Emma Lehto)
(Emma Lehto)

Art Minute is a CBC Arts series taking you inside the minds of Canadian artists to hear what makes them tick and the ideas behind their work.