The University Record, October 21, 1998

Look! It’s a book

By Joanne Nesbit
News and Information Services

What do pencils, black faux fur, metal pages, harmonicas, spindles and, oh yes, paper and words all have in common? They are some of the materials 34 Michiganders used in creating books for the “Michigan Book Artists 1998” exhibition.

Sponsored by the Special Collections Library, the exhibition is the result of an open call for entries from book artists throughout Michigan. Many of the entries stretch the boundaries of the book form and beg the questions, “Who defines a book?” and “What are the nature and function of a book?”

The artists have produced suspended sculptural books and fine press books, and some have incorporated found objects. All display a creativity that incorporates a variety of materials, incluidng wax, velvet, wood, hand-woven fabrics, clay, handmade papers, boxes and mirrors.

“The works that were selected demonstrate a serious, but sometimes playful, investigation into the idea and form of the book,” says James Fox, curator of the exhibition.

The exhibition is divided into three categories: Fine Press Works, Artists’ Books, and Book-objects. Works in the Fine Press category tend to follow the traditional form of the book, usually contain original artwork (particularly prints and photographs) and text, and are accomplished at the highest level of artisanship.

Artists’ Books are works that stretch or extend the boundaries of the book form in some way. They are conceived, designed, and frequently published by an artist, often in relatively inexpensive and large print form. Many of these works ask important questions about the nature and identity of the book.

Book-objects are one-of-a-kind artworks and often move far away from the traditional book form. They may include painting, collage, mixed media, and elaborate or unconventional binding. These works often incorporate found objects, have strong sculptural elements, and are book-like pieces.

“Michigan Book Artists 1998” continues through Dec. 23. The exhibition is closed Sundays and will be closed Nov. 26-28.

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