It was a series of serendipitous accidents and lucky breaks that led artist Haley Wrinkle to her first exhibition, which opened this week at Java Cafe and Gallery.

Wrinkle, a committed Christian, came to Cambodia eight months ago, to teach English, tell people about Christ and live in a different culture from that of her native US.

But her life took a surprise turn when she applied for her first ever solo exhibition—and was granted it. The works shown are the product of three years of on-and-off tinkering. “I’ve been working on this style for a while,” Wrinkle said. “Half of this is just a mistake that I recognized as a good mistake.”

The exhibition includes 31 prints of images taken from two hand-made books, along with the books themselves. Trained as a bookmaker, Wrinkle developed an unusual style that bounces back and forth between traditional and new media. She combines scratchboard—scraping into a layer of paint to reveal what is underneath—with collage, then scans these works, manipulating them on her computer and printing the new images. Finally, she meticulously hand-sews the digitally-reworked pieces into a book.

Wrinkle notes that bookmaking is a discipline that has only recently come into its own—but it’s easy to see why the handcrafted quality of these books sets them apart. “The thing about these books is that they are better than mass produced books because they are handmade, hand-sewn and handbound,” she said.

Wrinkle’s illustrations combine with the whimsical stories—written by her friends—to create absurd fairy tales in which a woman can fall in love with a turtle (even if it’s because she wants to cook him) and apes dream about characters from books. “They’re like children’s books but not really,” Wrinkle says, “maybe interesting for adults, satirical or slightly dark.”


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