2012 – Telling Stories: Exploring Book Arts

“Octopus” (detail). An artist’s book by Julie Chen. This is an example of how a story can be told through a book’s structure.

August 3 – September 21, 2012

Click to view or download exhibit brochure

How many ways can a book tell a story?

Words are the most common, with pictures coming in as a close second. But have you ever wondered if the paper itself or the shape of a book might have something to say, too?

Book Art artists take text, image, material and structure into consideration when they make a book by hand. This exhibit looks closely at these four separate but often interrelated components of book art, and challenges you to think about new ways a book can be a book, even if it looks nothing like the stack of paperbacks you took on vacation this summer.

The Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library has been collecting what has come to be known as “book art” for more than ten years. Our collection includes some of the leading book art artists working today. Email our Special Collections librarian, Brea Black, if you would like to learn more about this wonderful collection.

LEFT TO RIGHT: Words tell stories of course, but have you ever thought about how the size and design of the letters might impact meaning? Image often tells the story when words aren’t enough. The way a book is built—its shape—can have something to say, like in this “tunnel book” that expands into a deep-sea diorama. And the stuff books are made of can even tell a story, like this book’s hand-woven spine. The technique used tells the story of Native Plateau basket weaving tradition.

More Book Fun!

Here are four fun activities to try at home. Each one teaches you how to make a different book. Just click each image to download. If you visit the Gallery, you can see examples of these on display.


Related Events

Opening Reception & First Friday Artwalk
Friday | August 3 | 5:30 – 8:30 PM | Sabatini Gallery
Start your artwalk at the library. We offer great conversation, yummy refreshments, and a large parking lot that makes carpooling to other locations easy. Refreshments generously provided by the Friends of the Library.

Illuminated Manuscripts: A Demonstration
Wednesday | August 8 | 7 – 8:30 PM | Marvin 101A
Take a journey back to a time to the Middle Ages, before the printing press, when books were written and illustrated entirely by hand. Learn from Dr. Tony Silvestri (Washburn University) how he’s keeping this complex craft alive today.

Wet and Wild! Hand Papermaking
Friday | August 10 | 10 AM – 12 PM
Saturday | September 15 | 10 AM – 12 PM
Library front sidewalk
Come discover the art of traditional Western hand papermaking. You can “pull” a sheet of paper made from recycled and natural materials to take home with you.

Altered Books Workshop
Thursday | August 23 | 6:30 – 8:30 PM | Marvin 101C
Saturday | August 25 | 3:00 – 5:00 PM | Marvin 101A

Altering an unwanted book into art allows you to express your creativity and recycle at the same time. Hands-on demonstrations and books provided. Registration required. Call 580-4515.

September First Friday Artwalk
Friday | September 7 | 5:30 – 8:30 PM | Sabatini Gallery
Start your artwalk at the library. Our large parking lot makes carpooling to other locations easy.

Featured Artists

Julie Chen (Berkeley, CA) | Cynthia Colbert (Lexington, SC) | Andrea Deszo (Amherst, MA) | Emory Douglas (San Francisco, CA) | Constance Ehrlich (Lawrence, KS) | Lauren Faulkenberry (Tuscaloosa, AL) | Walter Feldman (Providence, RI) | Foolscap Press (Santa Cruz, CA) | Caroline Garcia Ziegler (Philadelphia, PA) | Fionnuala Hart Gerrity (Belmont, MA) | Fred Hagstrom (St. Paul, MN) | Karen Hanmer (Chicago, IL) | Lisa Hasegawa (Seattle, WA) | Charles Hobson (Stinson Beach, CA) | Andrew Huot (Normal, IL) | Linda K. Johnson (Ft. Lauderdale, FL) | Roberta Lavadour (Pendleton, OR) | Angela Lorenz (Bologna, Italy) | Emily Martin (Iowa City, IA) | Kitty Maryatt (Claremont, CA) | Joanne Price (Minneapolis, MN) | Clarissa Sligh (Asheville, NC) | Shu-Ju Wang (Portland, OR) | Frances Watson (San Diego, CA)

What are Book Arts?

Michael Perkins

Multimedia Producer and Visual Artist at the library. Painter of the Kids Library Mural and 3D scapes, Designer of the Learn and Play Bus and AdventureMobile. When not at work you can find me drawing, making stuff out of wood and getting into trouble.