This is a biweekly series about art and artists in the region. Pittsburgh Filmmakers/Pittsburgh Center for the Arts serves the community through arts education, exhibitions and artist resources.
Jasdeep Khaira is, among other things, a book artist. She and other DIY artists in Pittsburgh are making hand-bound books that are small works of art.
Ms. Khaira came to Pittsburgh in 2001 to attend Carnegie Mellon University where she studied architecture, anthropology and art. While there, she and other CMU-based artists founded Encyclopedia Destructica, a handmade "zine."
Encyclopedia Destructica has evolved into a community-based, indie-artist book publisher, based in Lawrenceville. Ms. Khaira now has a studio with an offset printing press, laser printers and an industrial-size paper cutter. She regularly hosts cultural events, including readings, book-binding parties, screenings and book releases.
The books help make new, and sometimes unpolished, art available to an audience looking for something fresh and fun. They allow the viewer, Ms. Khaira explains, "to self-curate as they turn the page."
"We are inspired by the need to explore, create and distribute contemporary art and culture in an accessible way that encourages community participation and involvement," she says. They hope to publish back issues online soon -- with instructions on how to handcraft them at home.
Encyclopedia Destructica's latest project is "Strange Attractors: Investigations in Non-Humanoid Extraterrestrial Sexualities," a 288-page, full color book and 120-minute DVD encompassing art, writing and film. Only partly tongue-in-cheek, it includes the work of 70 artists, writers and filmmakers who've explored a variety of possible extraterrestrial life forms.
Ms. Khaira also works at Pittsburgh Filmmakers/Pittsburgh Center for the Arts as director of artist services, and until July, she was the manager of CMU's public art experiment, The Waffle Shop.
At PF/PCA, she is in charge of membership, a conduiting program to help artists obtain funding, and Flight School, a program created to teach artists business skills. Her position, she says, allows her to work with the local arts community and to welcome new artists to town.
"I really like Pittsburgh" says Ms. Khaira, who grew up in Southern California.
Newcomers easily find PF/PCA when doing a Google search for arts in Pittsburgh. Ms. Khaira is often the first person they talk to about the art scene. We have a national reputation for being an affordable, livable, rather hip, arts-friendly place. She sees that going nowhere but up.
More information is available at: www.encyclopediadestructica.com.