Sandra Kroupa at Book Artists Jam
Marshall Weber and Christopher Wilde
Concluding the panel presentations, Sandra Kroupa (Curator of Artists' Books, Special Collections, University of Washington), said that she is "so old in the field, I come to it before it was called book arts." Accompanying her talk with slides that served as a suggestive accompaniment as well as, at times, illustration, she repeatedly emphasized the importance of teaching, of collecting books that would speak to a broad student community of diverse interests and tastes, of sharing the subtlety and serenity of books, in contradistinction to the blather of the twenty-first century. Ms. Kroupa interrupted herself to talk about Mathew Geller's Difficulty Swallowing (1981), a photographic chronicle of his girlfriend Ellie's sickness and death from leukemia, at age 25, a $10 artists' book Ms Kroupa considers "one of the best books about death or dying that anyone could have." Admitting that she is often moved to tears when she shares the book with students, she said that her goal is to enable students to experience the same intensity in their interactions with books. Rejecting the idea that a curator builds a collection around their own personal tastes, Ms Kroupa emphasized that she builds her collection with the integrity and value of the whole in mind, that books should work "not just singly but together." Ms Kroupa also stressed that being a practitioner of the book arts increased her knowledge about the technical processes employed by book artists and enhanced her work as a curator, and her narrative included numerous allusions to her experience at workshops. Like Marshall Weber, she also prefers books and texts by living people, and echoed his belief that "living people are great." Ms Kroupa's workshop experiences have not led her to consider herself a bookmaker, or an artists' bookmaker, but, rather, to look for technical proficiency beyond her own: to "be a cheerleader for talent."