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Book Artists

Second Annual New Jersey Book Arts Symposium
Book Arts and Education, or, Preaching What We Practice

Book Artists

Eleven book artists:


Maria G. Pisano

Words and books have been influencing mankind from the beginning of civilization. People who have grown in a free society take books and the power of the word for granted. These are commodities, which like any other everyday thing, permeate every part of our lives. Most of us are accustomed to a specific form in a book as defined in the dictionary: "any number of written or printed sheets when bound or sewed together along one edge, usually between protective covers". In this exhibit, artists have taken this common everyday form and creatively manipulated it.

Kathleen McShane

My classes in Printmaking Workshop/Bookarts, here at Rutgers, and Introduction to Artists Books at the New School in New York, both focus on the book as a self-referential form, as conceptually whole; each unique form and process can be a significant aspect of its meaning. Ideally, the student is willing to be inventive--so that we can explore innovative materials and processes.

Critical dialogue revolves around the book as a metaphor, and carries into the "reading" of art. Ideally, bookarts could be incorporated more widely into the art curriculum as a way for students to put their work processes and ideas into a "body," and to consider the potential in multiples--for accessibility to a bigger audience

Philip Grushkin

I am a strong believer that designers must fully learn design basics and develop their tactile skills with pencil, pen and brush. They must also have knoweldge of the earlier methods of typesetting. It is only then that they can approach the computer, which is only a tool, with an understanding of its possibilities. This amazing new technology has completely transformed and eased the manner in which books are designed and manufactured. Book designers should be fully aware of what has transpired before so that they can build upon that knowledge to better explore the new horizons

Debra Weier

Why Books?

I became interested in making books in a very roundabout way. My initial interest was in painting. From there I became interested in printmaking, and then decided to take a bookmaking course to "found out" my education. I remember entering the typography class with anxiety. What was I getting into? The studio was so clean you could eat off the floor. And I had never much interest in setting type, in graphic or type design, or in making books. What was I doing here?

I was in for a surprise. Bookmaking opened up a new world for me. We studied the form of a book by making one-of-a-kind books with no words, pieces that dealt with the idea of a "sequential picture plane." Two new elements entered my visual vocabulary--the third dimension and the time element. The third dimension, or sculpture, had always been a foreign world to me, a world represented by "big," "technical" and "noisy." Now I could be sculptural with paper through the use of collage, popout structures and pages within pages. The possibilities seemed endless. And the time element--I had experimented with film, which I thoroughly enjoyed, but I missed the tactile sensation of working with my hands. Making these strange books with no words satisfied my desires.

"Typography" and the printed word were not what drew me to books. It was the moving picture plane that intrigued me. I became interested in fourteenth century Japanese scrolls. As I studied them, they revelead themselves as a moving narrative. As the scroll was unrolled, different events were shown. Also fascinatiing was the way the words and images were visually unified. The "illustrations" were not arbitrariliy separated from the calligraphy and confined to the respective rectangles as in Western illustrated books. Rather, they were seamlessly integrated. I wanted to do that!

Introductions, continued

Denise Carbone

today i will make a book
unlike other books i've made
they are not commodities
but expressions of the way i work

today i will make something
to give (mail) away
which allows each item to be free from worry

today i will make a point
not to exploit
to keep my voice low
and eyes open

i learn something new so today i will use it

Benita Wolffe

To analyze non-traditional artist books, find one that interests you. If possible, pick it up, hold it, turn the pages. Be conscious of your own movements, as well as the book's. Look at the materials, the images, the text and the scale. Notice relationships, those in the book to each other, and these to you, the viewer reader. Take notes and sketch a diagram. Use this thinking process to plan a copy. Then make your own book. You will find that your copy has become your interpretation of the book that interested you and that this is the most effective learning process.

Barbara Mauriello

I like making books which relate somehow to the home: hence, Paper Quilts, Kimono Book, Floating Carpets, Twelve Egyptian Chairs. Never having taken a high school "Home Economics" class, I think that is exactly what I celebrate in my books. My role models are the women who filled my house: mother, sisters, grandmother, aunts. I like the matter-of-factness of their work, their absorption in things "as far from humble as a rolling pin" (the phrase is Marge Piercy's). I look at the tiny knitted coats, the blouses with dime-sized notched collars, the sweet minuscule hats which my grandmother made for my dolls. I remember my Great Aunt Anna's rice pudding and--because someone had the foresight to write down the recipe--still enjoy aunt Cella's Hungarian Goulash. My mother's sister Mary re-cycled wedding dresses into exquisite First Communion dresses. A photograph I treasure is of this most elegant aunt standing in a doorway on her Ohio farm, wearing a "Vogue" dress she had sewn--and looking, for all the world, as if she belonged on the cover of that magazine. So, every August I make peach jam; and, throughout the rest of the year, I make books.