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Ninth Annual New Jersey Book Arts Symposium

Styles of Collecting, Styles of the Book

November 7, 2003

John Cotton Dana Library, Rutgers, Newark Campus Newark, New Jersey

"STYLES OF COLLECTING, STYLES OF THE BOOK," IS THE NINTH IN A SERIES OF SYMPOSIA on the book arts, which have been held annually at Rutgers University since 1995. "Styles" looked at issues of collecting, focused by a panel of private and institutional collectors: Constance Woo (Library Director, Long Island University, Brooklyn Campus), Marvin Sackner, of the Ruth and Marvin Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry, whose vitality has energized all aspects of the contemporary book (Miami Beach), Milan Hughston, the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art's Chief of Library and Museum Archives (New York), Marshall Weber, a Director of Booklyn, an increasingly important advocate of the 21st century book (Brooklyn), and Sandra Kroupa, Book Arts Librarian in Manuscripts, Special Collections, University Archives Division at the University of Washington Libraries (Washington), a highly effective proponent of bringing innovative book-making into the library. In a symbolic departure from previous years, we scheduled the panel discussion for the morning rather than the afternoon (immediately following Lois Morrison's demonstration of Gocco printing, reasoning that, reversing the normal order of the program would immediately and conspicuously challenge preconceptions about the nature of the collector as a passive receiver of art, and about the flow of influence moving in only one direction. We wanted to express the idea that book collecting and book making are reflexive, mutually supportive and interpenetrating acts within an ongoing process of continual discovery; it was for the purpose of framing this new paradigm we titled the Symposium Styles of Collecting, Styles of the Book, with a trailing comma that we hoped would signify connectivity, continuity and the synergy of Collecting/Making. Just as the act of art making depends upon gathering and arranging--markers of curatorial effort--the act of collecting art requires imagination and vision (ultimately, the whole of a collection must be greater than the sum of its parts), and it influences and conditions the world beyond the walls of the library. In her response to the morning panel Judith K. Brodsky emphasized the importance of collecting by noting that libraries have not only served the art world as collecting agencies, but, through programs such as ours, as instruments of change.

The day's featured artists, in order of presentation--Robbin Ami Silverberg (papermaker, book artist), Mary Olive Stone (book artist), Liz Mitchell (book artist), and Gordon Murray (printmaker, book artist)--exemplified different aspects of creative collecting: Robbin Silverberg collected nontraditional materials such as human hair, metal coffee filter parts, wire hangers, to use in her books; Mary Olive Stone collected stories from her family in North Carolina; Liz Mitchell collaged together illustrations, public records, correspondence, proving herself a bona fide archivist in her technique, and Gordon Murray collected family poetry and newspaper photographs for his books. In addition, the impact of collectivity upon art and art making was glimpsed frequently and significantly, for example, in Robbin Silverberg's anecdote about a cross-cultural collaboration involving eight South African artists, Robbin's partner, the Hungarian artist Andras Borocz, and Robbin herself, and in Martin Niemöller 's poem of brotherhood, read movingly by Gordon Murray, who used it as the text of an artists' book. This sense of the strength of collection was also made explicit by Marshall Weber's eloquent advocacy of the Booklyn Artists' Alliance, and by Sandra Kroupa's moving story of how she and her students have been touched by the tragic story told by Matthew Geller in Difficulty Swallowing.

To further illustrate this sense of collecting as gathering, the accompanying exhibition incorporated work from 27 artists, by far the most of any previous Symposium exhibition. As well as embodying inclusivity, the exceptional fullness of our exhibition can be partly attributed to the gathering impulses of our artists: Artist and curator Karen Guancione brought her Montclair and Rutgers students into the show; Marshall Weber similarly exhibited a number of Booklyn artists in a group case; for the first time, the Rutgers University Libraries put on display book work collected over the previous year. Appropriately enough, the exhibition part of this website constitutes one of its largest components, with three separate sections: Installation, Exhibit Cases, and The Opening. No less appropriately, another large component, Portraits, demonstrates our effort to collect and record for posterity the faces of the over one hundred attendees, although, unfortunately, with only partial success. But we will be happy to collect photographs of anyone attending the Symposium who does not find their face here. As with previous websites, the website for Styles of Collecting, Styles of the Book, is a loose arrangement of photographs, texts and related documents and media intended less to document the event than illustrate the richness and variety of the Rutgers Symposium.


Workshop: Gocco Printing, by Lois Morrison

Collecting Artists Books: Conceived and Organized by Constance Woo

  • Constance Woo: "Issues"
  • Marvin Sackner: "A Private Collector's Perspective"
  • Milan Hughston: "A Museum Perspective"
  • Marshall Weber: "An Art Collective/Distributor's Perspective"
  • Sandra Kroupa: "A Large Academic Library's Perspective "

Artists Presentations

  • Robbin Ami Silverberg
  • Liz Mitchell
  • Mary Olive Stone
  • Gordon N. Murray

Opening for Exhibition at John Cotton Dana Library, curated by Karen Guancione.

Program [PDF]

Original program page in Wayback Machine




  • Marcia Sandmeyer Wilson
  • Harry Glazer
  • Michael Joseph
  • Lisa Hasselbrook
  • Constance Vidor

New Jersey Book Arts Committee 2003

  • Judith K. Brodsky
  • William J. Dane
  • Karen Guancione
  • Michael Joseph
  • Lynn S. Mullins
  • Ralph Ocker
  • Constance Vidor
  • Ann Watkins
  • Constance Woo

Artist's Announcement: Barbara Henry

Artist in Residence: Marcia Sandmeyer Wilson

Demonstration: Lois Morrison

Audio-Visual: Bill Majors

Exhibition Curator: Karen Guancione

Local Arrangements: Chris Ingram, Janet Masonave

Panel Organizer: Constance Woo

Vendor Coordinator: Bob Pederson

Website: Michael Joseph

Special thanks to Joanne Leone Corris, whose paintings beautified the walls of the John Cotton Dana Room; to the Rutgers University Libraries for its continued support of the Symposium and related book-o-centric activities; and thanks as always to the artists whose selflessness, vision, creative energy enthusiasm and good humor make the New Jersey Book Arts Symposium possible.