2012 Conference Blog

Welcome To The 2012 Conference Blog

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  • 29 Dec 2011 11:00 AM | Anonymous
    Scott Murphy will be a presenter at the College Book Art Association Conference next week, where he will be moderating, "Re-Sequencing Expectations: Combining New and Old Technologies in Pedagogy and Practice." His presentation, "The Digital-Analog Divide: A Sequence of Complementary or Competitive Components" will take place at Mills College on Friday. He took some time to answer some questions about these ideas with this blog. For more information on Murphy, please visit his website.

    College Book Art Association (CBAA): Please tell us first about yourself and your own artistic practice.

    Scott Murphy (SM): I grew up in New Jersey and went to Rutgers, where I got a BA in history. While I've always been making things, I didn't necessarily see a career in art. I moved to Arizona to go to graduate school in anthropology. I've always been interested in religion and mythology and that is what I studied at Arizona State University. Despite a healthy interest in the anthropological study of religion, I felt as though the social science approach to religion, specifically religious experience, was too dry to do the subject justice. So I turned to photography and the book arts to really explore the religious topics I found so interesting. I shifted from the anthropology program after my MA into the MFA program in photography. My art is thoroughly entwined in a fascination with what it means to be human, how we connect with the world in both a physical and metaphysical sense and the history of how humans have tried to use photography, technology and art to interact with the sacred. So, in many ways the anthropological side of me has a big influence on my art practice. My art practice tends to use handmade paper, 19th century photographic processes and book forms to both engage my process as part of the exploration - a sort of meditation in art while meditating on religious experience in general.

    CBAA: Your panel is going to ask questions about how the traditions of the codex fit in with digital technology. How do you address these questions in the classroom?

    SM: It is easier than ever to make a book. On-demand printing and simple template software allow anyone to make, print and distribute books. This simplicity allows for the use of books in a myriad of classes where they might not have fit before. For example, I have photography 2 students create a photograph-a-day book, based on images they shot through the course of the semester. In other classes, I have students make portfolio books that they can use to demonstrate their work. In this sense, the book becomes a central assignment through the curriculum rather than in specific "book classes."

    CBAA: How do you think the experience of reading is changing with the shift to digital technology? Do you think this affects how artist books are read and designed?

    SM:  I think it is funny that at the same time it is easier than ever to create a physical book through digital layout and on-demand printing we have the shift to ebooks that create a digital delivery device and a virtual book. I can't speak to how this affects the reading of "normal" books. In the context of the artist book, I wonder if it makes them more valuable, more interesting or somehow more quaint. In the art world, such things are considered valuable and beautiful. I've come across quite a few "normal" folks who think it is interesting that such handmade things are continued but wonder why any one would choose to do so much additional labor. 

    While there does seem to be a difference between physical and virtual books in the way we interact with them. I find it intriguing that all of my books start out as digital layouts. No one sees this step however. I hide the virtual side of my practice. Instead, I use the digital to make art that is tangible and precious. So, this does make me consider the idea of value. Digital gets you to what is important. It is not the end product - its value to me is process. Yet, in the mainstream world of publishing, the digital book is the end product. The value is the content though, not the object. Whereas my book has value in the object and the content. My final question then is where is the value in an on-demand book. It is a physical object, but the value seems more tied to the content than its physical form.

    The College Book Art Association Conference will take place next week - visit here for late registration.
  • 20 Dec 2011 10:32 AM | Anonymous
    As the College Book Arts Association Conference in January nears, panelists and presenters are preparing their talks. One of the presenters in the Student Lightning Round panel is Jennifer Baker. Baker is currently working on her MFA at Washington University in St. Louis. Her artist book, December will be exhibited in Bibliotech at the San Francisco Public Library from January 5 - March 11, 2012. To see more of her work, please check out her website.

    College Book Arts Association (CBAA):
    Please tell us about your own personal work and how you became interested in making books.

    Jennifer Baker (JB): I was trained as a painter, though I always worked rather sculpturally. My frustration at a painting's ability to envelop the viewer completely led me to explore more interactive media. Now my approach to artmaking centers on how the visual narrative of installation and the artist book operate in conjunction. Employing this strategy allows me to present narrative to be experienced publicly and privately, each offering different implications.

    CBAA: Your presentation is titled,"Strategies of Visual Narrative." Could you provide a short description of what this means?

    JB:I plan to discuss my methodology by describing two installations and the three artist books that accompany them, and by speaking to how the presentation of each form influences the content of the work.

    CBAA: How does your presentation relate to your own work as a book artist?

    JB: In the presentation I will be describing two recent projects in detail:

    Lick is an installation that was created by installing a Stealth Cam, a tool associated with hunting, in my bedroom for five days. During the night, the motion activated camera took pictures of my nocturnal activity. Both the installation and the artist book, December , offer an uncensored, serial account of this period of time and invite the viewer to consider their role as both voyeur and viewed.

    A second collaborative installation, Another Day , features the outcome of artists' engaging each other in everyday, banal performance of assignments for one week. Recorded sound, video, and the placement of my cell phone in the space (logged into social networking platforms and available for use) allowed the viewer an excerpt of experience defined by time and persona. This installation is accompanied by two artists books: Another Day acts as document of the installation in photographic form and offers the only source of the original text describing the artists' assignments to each other. Catagory 7 details the online exchange via Facebook and Twitter iPhone applications that is a mash-up of dialogue describing an apocolyptic science fiction movie and a listing of the symptoms of menopause.

    CBAA: As an emerging artist, what are you most hoping to get out of the College Book Arts Association?

    JB: I know book artists from across the country, but I don't get to see them or their work enough. I am looking forward to seeing familiar faces and hearing what other artists who use the book in their practice are up to. I haven't been to the Bay area in some time, and I am excited to visit the many local institutions that support book arts and get to know them better. Also, a job would be nice.

    Jennifer's presentation will take place at Mills College on Friday, January 6, during the CBAA Conference. 
  • 04 Oct 2011 12:54 PM | Anonymous
    Wandering through San Francisco's Historic Mission District, the peripatetic traveler can discover Press: Works on Paper, a book store and book art gallery, located at 3492 22nd Street. Owned and operated by Nick Sarno and Paulina Nassar, the space focuses on small press publications, vintage books and materials, and artists who work with and print on paper.

    Prior to opening the space, Sarno had fallen in love with the world of books and was working for a small press, in charge of their editing and acquisitions. With Nassar, he had considered opening "just" a book store, but found the cost of doing so prohibitive. Additionally, Sarno divulges, he always liked to think of books as art objects connected with paper and paper-related art. These ideas became the basis launching Press:Works on Paper.

    As publishing is going through numerous changes, Sarno notes, an interest and reverence for craft is on the rise. E-readers, he notes, are great for items such as mystery novels, items that have thus far been part of our throwaway culture, but the books in his space are the opposite of such an idea. They are lasting objects, and due to their presentation, would not communicate on a Kindle.

    All of the books featured in Press:Work on Paper are from small and independent presses. Sarno encourages visitors to explore the books, and most visitors understand the concept of the book as art after spending time in the space. He notes that one visitor remarked, upon observation of some of vintage office supplies such as staplers that festoon the gallery, that he and Nassar must have great nostalgia for the 1950ies when such objects were made. Sarno clarified that there is a sense of nostalgia, but not for an earlier time. Instead, it is a esteem for vintage objects of good craftsmanship, items that still function and have a sense of permanence.

    Nassar and Sarno aim for their space to transcend being a mere store, and hope for the space to be a nexus for a community of bibliophiles and artists. To build this, they have begun offering bookbinding classes and other events. They plan to eventually work up to offering two classes, events, or happenings a week. It is evident that they are having success at building a following; Sarno estimates that most people who show up have never been to the store before or taken a bookbinding class, but discovered Press:Works on Paper online.

    When asked what advice he would give book art students or recent graduates, Sarno advises artists to respect their work, but remember to have fun with it. He likes to work with people who appreciate craft, but have a sense of humor.

    Press:Works on Paper is open Monday-Saturday from 11-7, and Sundays from 12-6, and is a short walk for visitors to the city from the 24th street BART stop.

  • 08 Sep 2011 12:08 PM | Anonymous
    Traveling from San Francisco, if one crosses the Golden Gate Bridge to the Marin Pennisula and follows Route 101 to San Rafael, a book art enthusiast can find Donna Seager Gallery. Founded and directed by the luminous Donna Seager, a pioneer in incorporating artist books into the broader context of contemporary art, the gallery first opened its doors in 2005.

    Seager, a native of New Orleans, has a degree in Art History and English from the University of Texas at Austin. After graduating, she began her career in galleries working at a gallery in her home city, and eventually moving to Boston to become the director of Marlborough Gallery on Newberry Street. In 1998, she relocated to the Bay Area, and spent time working in several galleries, including Elins/Eagle-Smith Gallery in San Francisco's 49 Geary Building, before opening her own space in San Rafael.

    From the very beginning, Seager knew she would incorporate artist books into the gallery. Before she has started her own space, Kay Bradner, one of the artists she now represents, had introduced her to Charles Hobson. Hobson invited her to his home and showed her his personal collection. Upon seeing his books, Seager says she gained,"an understanding that in the right hands, [the book] is the medium for art itself."

    Hobson also introduced her to many other book artists in the Bay Area, including Kazuko Watanabe, Julie Chen, Macy Chadwick, Peter Koch, and many others. She came to realize that the Bay Area is a rich vein of people dedicated to book art. With Hobson's help, she put together her first Art of the Book exhibition, featuring book artists from the region. Since its inception, the annual exhibition has grown to include artists from all across the United States, and receives upwards of 400 people at its opening reception and thousands of visitors during the length of the exhibition.

    In addition, Seager continues to offer regular talks by book art regional book art luminaries such as Peter Koch, John DeMerritt, or Rhiannon Alpiers. This led to her leading several talks at art fairs, including those in Miami and San Francisco, promoting the book as a medium for art. Seager feels strongly that great art collections have book art, and that it offers something that other mediums cannot have, a kind of intimacy, and so art collectors should collect artist books. She also feels that the best experience of an artist book is not in the gallery, but through ownership, where a reader can explore the multeity of aspects of the book; paper, binding, structure, integration of text and image.

    When introducing a collector to artist books for the first time, Seager often begins with a book that has an interesting structure, such as something by Julie Chen, which has all the elements of a book but the structure changes the sequencing somehow that opens minds to the possibilities inherent in book art.  She is most drawn to artist books where the form is in concert with the content. Seager often uses musical words to describe quality artist books, explaining how material and sequence are "orchestrated in harmonic chords" with structure and content.

    Seager's Art of the Book exhibitions are renowned for allowing visitors to don gloves and handle the books. However, she says that these shows are now almost becoming "too popular," and while that is fortunate problem to have, she now has some books that cannot withstand the amount of handling from the vast number of visitors she receives. This is not to say that Seager does not still believe in the importance of holding an artist book for its complete understanding. She is currently considering options to best exhibit and protect the books. One of the options she is considering encouraging artists to make "handling copies" for potential collectors to peruse.

    Seager encourages students and recent graduates "do what you do," and explore ways of expressing yourself, as well as "get your work out there," through exhibitions. After six years of Art of the Book exhibitions, she is hoping some of the artists she represents have recognizable names, and that people are coming specifically to see their books on display. When considering a book, Seager seeks a high level of craftsmanship and an intimate knowledge of materials. She also looks for a book to be sturdy, something that can tolerate handling.

    While in the Bay Area, a visit to the North Bay to visit Donna Seager Gallery is well worth the trip. The hours are Tuesday through Sunday, 11 AM to 6 PM, as well as on Second Fridays from 5 to 8 PM during the San Rafael Artwalk. The gallery can be found at 851 Fourth Street in San Rafael, CA, 94901.
  • 27 Jul 2011 3:24 PM | Anonymous
    As the August 15, 2011 deadline for the submissions for BiblioTech, the juried exhibition of work by members of the College Book Art Association approaches, this blog turns its focus to the venue for the upcoming exhibition, the Skylight Gallery at the San Francisco Public Library, Main Library.

    The Skylight Gallery crowns the Beaux Art style building at the top of its grand staircase. Specially-designed blinds protect sensitive artwork from ultraviolet light while allowing illumination to fill the 2,200 square foot space. During regular library hours, the gallery is open to the public. Just beyond the gallery is the Marjorie G. & Carl W. Stern Book Arts & Special Collections Center, where visitors can drop in to see the collection of artist books and printed matter that the library houses.

    The exhibition space is airy and inviting, with numerous free-standing cases offering viewers the ability to see 360 degree views of books. Carpets, adhesives, and paint for the gallery and the rest of the library were selected to ensure minimal outgassing of harmful materials to protect visitors and the environment.

    The Main Library of the San Francisco Library is located at 100 Larkin Street, at the intersection of Larkin and Grove, with close proximity to the Civic Center BART station.
  • 01 Jul 2011 2:36 PM | Anonymous
    The Mission district of San Francisco is home to a number of used book stores, galleries, murals, and artist studios. Nestled in one studio building on Alabama Street is Logos Graphics, presided over by Master Printer John Sullivan and his cat Binky.

    Logos Graphics specializes in letterpress and offset printing, as well as film, photopolymer plate production, pre-press consulting, bookbinding, and screen printing. John is an innovative printer with a laid back personality and a wide range of knowledge of all sorts of subjects. A conversation with him is more than a valued learning experience, it can be a challenge to a thinking person's vocabulary.

    In addition to his work at Logos Graphics, John is also Board President of the Pacific Center for Book Arts (PCBA). PCBA is a membership organization, designed to support its members and develop their professional practices through events, exhibitions, and educational programs. The organization also produces a quarterly journal called Ampersand. The current volume, the Maker's Issue, has a focus on paper, features include paste paper and paper tearing techniques. And lucky readers also receive with each issue printed ephemera. For this volume, there is a paste paper swatch and comb by Marie Kelzer, a collaborative handmade paper/letterpress piece by John Sullivan, Peter Thomas and Michelle Wilson, and a letterpressed coaster Yvonne Tsang and Lisa Rappaport that includes instructions on making a mojito with print shop equipment. The upcoming issue, in full color, will be focused on Bookworks, the PCBA Triennial Members' Exhibition at the San Francisco Public Library.

    John will be a speaker at the Ladies of Letterpress Conference in Asheville, NC, this August. His shop is a short hop over from the San Francisco Center for the Book for anyone who would like to check it out while in town for CBAA 2012!
  • 06 Jun 2011 12:25 PM | Anonymous

    Many in the book art world know of the Codex Foundation, and its biennial book art fair in Berkeley, CA. The powerhouse behind it is Peter Koch, who also runs Peter Koch Editions. He has printed over thirty artist books, as well as hundreds of works on commission for others. Currently, his work can be seen at the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University, in the exhibition, “The Art of the Book in California: Five Contemporary Artist Presses.”


    Peter Koch describes his practice as “more of an aesthetic than a philosophy,” wanting each book that he creates to an exemplary of its kind.  Koch relates his aesthetic to the philosophy of Parmenides, seeking an eternal quality in its final presentation. His goal for each book is to cross all borders of the senses to become a complete immersive experience. In addition, Koch is unyielding in the importance of craft. On his website, he states,”[T]here is no art without craft. Art without craft denies the difficult beauty of a thing well made, the elegant simplicity of an idea.”

    When discussing Codex, he explains that he wanted to create a book fair that could break away from genre-, nation- or region-centric affairs to become a global marketplace of both commerce and ideas. He describes visits to the Grande Marketplace in Istanbul, and how he realized that for a book art fair to exist on such a scale, he needed to do it himself. Drawing on a network of world friendships in the field, he set about doing just that.

    Koch is very willing to advise students or recent graduates just starting out in the field. He strongly encourages study with master printers and master bookbinders, and believes that it is crucial to study the history of the book. In particular, he insists on the study of typography. He says that the only real danger that artists risk is boring their audience, and encourages students to combine “high craft, deep historical awareness, and drop-dead intellectually compelling subject matter,” that they will raise the bar and make the next generation of significant artist books.

    To learn more about Peter Koch Editions, please visit here.

    To learn more about the Codex Foundation, please visit here.
  • 18 May 2011 4:27 PM | Anonymous

    “From this place words may fly abroad/Not to perish on waves of sound/But fixed in
    time/Not corrupted by the hurrying hand/But verified in proof/Friend, you stand on
    sacred ground/This is a printing office.”

    This selection of words hangs on a broadside from the University of California,
    Berkeley, in the San Francisco Center for the Book. Celebrating their fifteenth
    anniversary this year, SFCB is more than an institution; it is a phenomenon for book
    art in the Bay Area.

    Founded by Mary Austin and Kathleen Burch, a mundane description of SFCB is a
    place that offers workshops, exhibitions, public events, and residencies in book art.
    And yet, SFCB offers much more than this, it is more accurate to say that it fosters
    a community of book artists, pushed the boundaries of the medium, and builds
    bridges with other communities, both in the Bay Area and beyond.

    This is most evident in their artist residency programs. Every year, SFCB invites an
    artist from outside of the book art world to create an artist book in their facility.
    These artists, unfamiliar with the history and tradition of books and letterpress,
    have introduced new ideas, structures, and concepts to the medium. This year’s
    artist is Kota Ezawa.

    Their other residency program is their Small Plates Editions. SFCB does 3-4 books in
    this series a year, all around a central theme. When closed, each book measures 4 by
    4 inches. Not limited only to professional artists, this program selects one student in
    the Bay Area to participate in this program.

    Currently on view in their gallery is “Blanket Impressions, Brad Freedman, Clifton
    Meador, and the Offset Artist’s Printed Book,” curated by Steve Woodall. In a change
    from previous exhibitions, this is the first at SFCB in which the public is invited and
    encouraged to handle the books. Taking advantage of the length and narrowness of
    the gallery space, the exhibition design evokes the feeling of the color separations of
    the offset process.

    As planning for the 2012 College Book Art Association’s Conference continues, keep
    your eyes peeled for the conference tours. A visit to the San Francisco Center for the
    Book is ensured to be included, and not to be missed.

    For more information on the San Francisco Center for the Book, please visit:
  • 26 Apr 2011 7:30 PM | Anonymous
    Conference Blogger Michelle Wilson interviews Julie Chen

    Julie Chen, and her imprint Flying Fish Press, is known internationally for her movable book structures.
    In addition, she is on the faculty of Mills College, and Co-Chair of the 2012 CBAA Conference. Ms Chen
    took the time to answer some questions about teaching book art and the attending book art conferences.

    BLOG: How has being an educator influenced your art practice and vice versa?

    (Julie Chen – JC):My teaching practice and my art practice are very closely related in a number of ways.
    Because I am a maker, the issues that I am focused on in the classroom tend to be centered on issues of
    both technique and content development from a makers point of view. Thinking about these issues in such
    an abstract and analytical way often crosses over into my art practice, which might otherwise be a bit more intuitive and a bit less analytical. But it works both ways, as I am always trying to find ways for students to find their own inspiration and to trust their intuition as I do in my studio.

    BLOG: What is the potential for CBAA to advance book art education?

    JC:I think one of the main ways that CBAA is advancing book art education at the moment is by giving
    book art educators chance to talk to one another, and listen to one another's presentations at the meetings
    and conferences. The exchange of ideas on pedagogy and studio practice is both exciting and extremely
    informative. Individual educators will always have differences in approach, expertise, and opinion, but
    being able to be part of an active exchange with people in the larger book art education community is
    bound to have an uplifting effect on the field in general.

    BLOG: What is your overall vision for the conference?

    JC: My vision for this conference is for it to have both a serious academic side as well as an uproarious
    fun social side. We are committed to creating opportunities for both of these things. True to CBAA's
    mission, the heart of the conference will be the panel sessions and studio demonstrations, as well as our
    juried members exhibition. We also have two excellent speakers, Buzz Spector and Brewster Kahle, to
    share their thought provoking ideas at the beginning and the end of the conference. On the lighter side, we
    have plans in the works for some optional tours of the bay area book arts scene, which is very vibrant and
    varied, and have ample time built into the schedule for socializing and shopping at our vendors fair. We are
    also planning to hold what promises to be a very exciting live auction at the banquet to help raise money
    for conference support for students. And last but not least, we are taking full advantage of our location
    near California wine country and have already lined up donations of some really fabulous wines for our
    receptions and banquet. Truly this conference will have something for everyone.
  • 11 Apr 2011 10:22 PM | Anonymous
    Welcome to the 2012 College Book Art Association Blog. As planning and organizing for the 2012 Conference progresses, this blog will serve as a virtual window on events, exhibitions, speakers, miscellany, and the Bay Area in general.

    The hosting institution for the 2012 Conference is Mills College, an independent liberal arts college founded in 1852. Mills is located in the Oakland foothills, just across the water from San Francisco, in the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay. The 135-acre campus was named one of the top “Green Colleges” by the Princeton Review. Visitors to the Bay Area can expect a Mediterranean climate with the potential of rain and wind, but temperatures remaining well above freezing even in January, with Oakland remaining slightly warmer than San Francisco. 

    Check back as this blog develops. And please note that the deadline for papers and panel proposals  in June 1, 2011, and the deadline for exhibition entries is August 15, 2011.

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