Education and the Book Arts, or, Preaching What We Practice


Artists' Miscellany


About the Artists

Maria G. Pisano is a book artist, papermaker, printmaker and proprietor of the Memory Press. She has been making one-of-a-kind artist books since the early 1980's. Debra Weier began her Emanon Press in 1977, at the University of Wisconsin in Madision, under the direction of Walter Hamady. Because her books are visually oriented, rhythmic and often influenced by jazz, Debra chose the name Emanon (no name) in tribute to Dizzy Gillespie and his Emanon Jazz Club, in Cincinnatti. Kathleen McShane is a book artist teaching at Rutgers University, in Newark. Philip Grushkin is a free-lance book designer, book production consultant, calligrapher, and educator. He was formerly vice-president and art director at Harry N. Abrams, Inc., where he designed the original edition of the highly acclaimed History of Art by H. W. Janson. Suellen Glaushausser is an artist and maker of artist's books. Benita Wolffe is a book artist, and a book binder, who teaches book arts at the Newark Museum, in Newark, N.J. Iris Nevins is a paper marbler extraordinaire, whose explorations of historical marbling patterns have recovered many beautiful designs and historical processes from the brink of endless sleep. Denise Carbone is a book artist and preservation specialist. She works in the Preservation Dept. at the New York Academy of Medicine. Barbara Mauriello is a book artist and book binder. She teaches book arts at the Center for Book Arts, in New York City. John De Pol , illustrator, designer, wood-engraver, was born in New York in 1915. he has been engraving on wood for half a century for some of the finest private-press books published in this country. Some of the presses he has been connected with include Hammer Creek Press, The Pickering Press, Red Ozier Press, Stone House Press, and Yellow Barn Press. John DePol's work is in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The New York Public Library rare book collection, The Library of Congress and Rutgers University, Special Collections and University Archives. Barbara Henry is a typographer and graphic artist who spends many of her days setting nineteenth century foundry type at Bowne & Co., Stationers, at the South Street Seaport Museum.


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," "tefchnical" and "noisy." Now I could be sculptgural 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 revelaed themselves as a moving narrative. As the scroll was unrolled, different events were shown. Also fascinatiing was the weay 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!

Debra Weier


Statement of rl curator

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.

Artist's books are an artist's approach to ideas which are placed in expressive vessels. In this exhibit, some books have text, some do not. Some look like the book form we are familiar with, while others are objects which need closer inspection for us to understand why the artist is calling it a book. The exhibit contains many varied examples, including both professional artists' and students' pieces--creating a wide range in expression of ideas.

As curator of the exhibit and as a book artist it was a challenge to work with such exceptional work. The exhibit focuses on New Jersey artists, this being the 2nd Annual Symposium that highlights the richness of work that exists in this state. The late Susan Swartzburg was the impetus for all this and to whom all was possible. To her we owe a great indebtedness and thank you. It is the memory of her infallible beliefs, encouragement, mentoring and energy that will remain with us always.

Maria G. Pisano
Exhibition Curator


Artist's statement

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

everyday
i learn something new
so today i will use it

Denise Carbone


Education in the Bookarts

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.

Kathleen McShane


A Comment on Book Arts Education

We, as students,s can learn the skills necessary for practicing the expected divisions of fine arts, drawing, painting and sculpture in many places, including art schools, colleges, adult education programs, "how to" books and even on TV. Unfortunately, places and means to learn the skills to make artist books are not readily available. There is the Center for Book Arts in New York City that offers excellent classes in traditional book binding. There are several books with clear sets of written instructions and diagrams.f I have found these sources helpful. But there is another way to learn, from artist books themselves.

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 beome your interpretation of the book that interested you and that this is the most effective learning process.

Benita Wolffe


[On Tradition]

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.

Philip Grushkin