Is That a Book?

Julie Chen, "Evidence of Compression", 2001

An artists’ book is a book or book-like object made by an artist or group of artists. Simple, right? But artists’ books aren’t like that latest bestseller on the shelf. They’re often made by hand using a variety of unusual materials and techniques and are published in limited editions of 100 or less. Artists’ books are special.

Your library collects artists’ books because they are a vibrant, diverse, and exciting genre of art at a time when books as physical objects are sometimes seen as artifacts of the past. They invite us to explore beyond the traditional book form and to re-examine our ideas of what a book is supposed to be.

Julie Chen is a well-known book artist. We are lucky to have several of her artists’ books in our collection, including the book pictured above. In this video, Julie talks about how she discovered book arts for the first time. 

Interested in seeing some of TSCPL’s artists’ books for yourself? See photos of our Books Outside the Binding exhibit on Flickr, or contact Special Collections Librarian Brea Black at 785-580-4512 or to set up an appointment. Mark your calendars for August 3 – September 21, 2012 for Telling Stories, our next exhibition of artists’ books.

Brea Black is the Art Librarian and Book Arts Curator in the Alice C. Sabatini Gallery. Her favorite thing is to share the wonderful world of artists' books with the community. She also leads the Arts & Crafts team and teaches workshops on bookmaking, altered books, and a variety of crafty topics.