Collective Relevance: The Reciprocity of Art and Artifact

2018 College Book Art Association Conference 

Philadelphia—January 4–6, 2018

Conference Host: University of the Arts

Co-Chairs: Cynthia Thompson, Isabel Lederman, 

Amanda D’Amico, David Chioffi & Lauren McDonald

As diplomat, inventor and printer, Benjamin Franklin [1706–1790], contributed greatly during his lifetime in each of these capacities. The act of providing for the needs of his countrymen was a part of his being. Franklin stated: “As we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours, and this we should do freely and generously.” This is illustrated in his 1784 invention of the double spectacles, later to be known as the bifocal lens, which utilizes the principle of refraction to enhance sight. Franklin’s need to clarify what was before him is based on his classification of distance to reading. This nomenclature and the physical form of the double spectacles implied within the cameo portrait
of Franklin serves as the icon and rich metaphor for the conference: Collective Relevance: The Reciprocity of Art and Artifact

The manner of experiencing and interacting amid the vast collections housed within Franklin’s city during
the conference days are without end: all which is far and near, historical and contemporary, as well as a focal point of research, academic exploration and creative inspiration. All are seen through the distinct pedagogical lens of each participant and all extend beyond the University, into the prominent historical institutions of Philadelphia which provide arenas for research, academic exploration and inspiration—a fluid classroom. The city of Philadelphia, vibrant in history, culture and contemporary art, is a central component and well-acknowledged companion to our MFA program at The University of the Arts.

Moreover, Philadelphia also offers a vital contemporary art landscape from printmaking collectives such as Second State Press and Space 1026, to artist run spaces such as Vox Populi to the established The Fabric Workshop and Museum and The Print Center, the opportunities for exploration and discovery are vast. 

Questions about the conference or sponsorship may be sent to

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