ConFab: Librarians make art. Artists make libraries.June 16, 2014
What if the librarians who collect WSW’s Artists’ Books in any number of august institutions across this land spent a day making Artists’ Books? On the 1st of May, WSW traveled to Washington, DC to stage such a day as part of what we found to be a FAB-ulous CON-ference (the 42nd conference of ARLIS/NA, the Art Libraries Society of North America). During a whirlwind workshop titled Bookings: Making Makerspaces for Artists Books, WSW Artistic Director Tana Kellner, with the hands-on help of Executive Director Ann Kalmbach, guided 15 participants in the art and practice of the artists’ book. WSW and participants made excellent use of a perfect space for the occasion: the well-equipped printmaking studios of Pyramid Atlantic Art Center.
The art librarians walked away with three artist books. A wee book bound with needle and thread on the spot, the text excerpted from My First Artists’ Book by Carolyn Swiszcz (published in 1996 here at WSW), served as prelude. Next, the librarians transmuted lame library lingo lifted from the March/April issue of American Libraries into folded single-sheet compendiums of wit and passion. As a pièce de résistance, each participant made a 16-page accordion book improvising on current controversies of the library profession mirrored in the world at large: dependability of sources, decline of the book, dubious FISA foraging – that kind of thing. After all, we were in D.C. Politics mixes in with the oxygen there. Or maybe it’s the carbon dioxide.
The workshop addressed the recent trend for MakerSpaces in libraries with an introduction to the topic before the art librarians began to FABricate their books in Pyramid Atlantic’s LAB. WSW’s own Sandra Brown (about to receive her library degree from the State University of New York at Albany) and Susan Chute, WSW’s Archival Consultant (formerly an art librarian at NYPL), summarized current MakerSpace research and practice with a quick slideshow presentation. Here’s the slide on the WSW/MakerSpace synergy. We hope that artists’ books take firm root in library makerspaces – the perfect place for the art of the book.
Sandra and Susan enjoyed the rest of the conference thoroughly, attending such sessions as “Activist Access and Outreach in Book Arts” and “Creative Engagement for Advocacy: Innovative Partnerships between Artists and Librarians.” They also attended a private evening reception at the splendiferous Library of Congress, where conference attendees had the run of the round Reading Room. You might just recall that all 200+ of WSW’s Artists’ Books are in the Library of Congress collection. Plus a few other minor tomes.
The round Reading Room at the Library of Congress, and a Gutenberg Bible on display in the foyer.