Old Books Re-imagined at Geisel Library
At a time when classic book-binding is challenged by the advent of Kindles and computers, contemporary artists are finding ways to turn the age-old book into new works of design.Written by Ashley Kwon
03 June 2012
At the San Diego Book Arts Fourth National Juried Exhibition held in Geisel Library and co-sponsored by UCSD’s Mandeville Special Collections Library, these old books can be found transformed by innovative combinations of images, text and format, revealing both the creative process and the soul of the book artists.
From the images of approximately 200 artists’ books submitted electronically from across the country, 60 that demonstrated creative typography and binding skills have been selected to be featured in the exhibition running until July 8, 2012. Examples of transformations include making the iTouch into the future book, rolling up papers of the book into threads for knitting and forming beeswaxes into fortune cookies with narrative teabag tags.
As the director of the Mandeville Special Collections Library and a board member of San Diego Book Arts, Lynda Claassen has been playing a significant role in this biannual exhibition as a head coordinator.
“Geisel is a perfect place to hold the exhibition because here in the Special Collections, we already have a very significant collection of artists’ books as part of the permanent collection and we have a national reputation for that,” Claassen said.
Book artists convey their ideas through a myriad of elements — images, words, materials, forms, colors and shapes — instead of just text, to create their narratives in some kind of a book form.
“Book art is a synthesis of form and content that provides us a bridge between the traditional book and contemporary art,” Claassen said. “The creative opportunity to structure, format and interpret book art is endless – dreams and imagination has not gone wanting here.”
Time dedicated to book arts varies from book artist to book artist. According to Claassen, some book artists spend years finding inspiration and completing their pieces, but others are stricken with an idea and finish in a couple months.
The opening reception was held on June 2. As the juror of this year, the book artist and the sole proprietor of Ninja Press, Carolee Campbell came to decide the winner of the exhibition, a new rule that has been introduced this year.
“I’m not sure how I feel about selecting a winner for the prize,” Campbell said. “There shouldn’t be a standard at which a juror is to judge the quality of art works. Who is to judge the amount of time and effort the book artists put into their works?”