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"Fran Manola: A Scribe's Life" opens February 27 at Dana Library

February 26, 2014
postcard invitation for the event

In collaboration with the Rutgers University Libraries' Special Collections/University Archives (SC/UA), the John Cotton Dana Library on the Rutgers-Newark campus will host an exhibit, "Fran Manola: A Scribe's Life," in the Library's Gallery from February 27 to May 30. An opening reception will take place on February 27 from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Dana Room. An accompanying program, Contemporary Calligraphy & Calligraphers, with discussion and demonstrations, will be held on Thursday, March 27, from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Dana Room.

Ms. Manola was a New York-New Jersey based artist and her personal papers were recently acquired by SC/UA. The collection includes many of Ms. Manola's works, personal art collection and books and the exhibit content is drawn from her donation. Items in Fran Manola's papers lead the viewer from sources of her inspiration to the products of her creativity. There are examples of framed Renaissance illuminated pages and Ms. Manola's hand bound and hand written "how to" guide to gilding. Ms. Manola was a well-known instructor in the area and works of her students and contemporaries are also included in the exhibit. A former student, Anna Pinto, is serving as guest curator with Michael Joseph, Rare Books Librarian, Alexander Library.

Fran Manola began her studies in the late 1940s with Paul Standard, an artist who was instrumental in the rekindled interest in calligraphy in the United States. She joined the Guild of Book Workers in the late 1950s to learn bookbinding and to share her experiences with other artists. Soon Ms. Manola was able to take on assignments as both a freelance calligrapher and a freelance bookbinder, a remarkable accomplishment. In 1966 she began to teach both art forms at the Craft Student League in New York. During the early 1970s, Ms. Manola developed her interest in gilding, studying in England and later in New York. Through her instructor, Donald Jackson, she met other calligraphers and illuminators. Ms. Manola was one of 19 founding members of the Society of Scribes in 1974. Following a lengthy career as artist and instructor, she died at age 97 in 2013. This is the first comprehensive exhibition of Fran Manola's work.

The exhibition, the opening reception, and the Contemporary Calligraphy program are free and open to the entire Rutgers community and the general community. For more information on these activities, please contact Dana Library Arts Coordinator, Ann Watkins at or 973-353-3809.