OLIVIA RICHMAN — General Assignment Reporter
What are artists’ books? Elyse Duffy, a graphic design major at Southern Connecticut State University, found out exactly what they were on the third floor of the Buley Library last week when her print media class paid the exhibit a visit.
“We are designing our own book covers (for class),” said Duffy, “and we got a special preview from the librarians to give us some ideas.”
When Duffy arrived at the artists’ books exhibit she said she was very inspired. There were many different styles of books on display that were not only unique, but visually appealing in many different ways.
So what is an artist’s book?
“It’s a book that’s also a work of art,” said Tina Re, an arts and special collections librarian at SCSU. “Books can be sculptural, multi-media. Think of the history of book-making. There’s such a rich history. There’s been a huge tradition of books being a form of art.”
According to Re, when most people think of books, they think of codex, but throughout history, books have taken many different forms, from scrolls to tablets. Now, artists and authors use these old art forms as an inspiration for newer designs by elaborating and improvising on the older ones.
“An example is a flag book,” said Re. “The spine is like an accordion, just like Asian books throughout history. But there are parts that are more contemporary, such as the pages that are set alternatively into the spine.”
Alessia Campanaro, an information library science major who helped in a big way to put together the exhibit, said artists’ books are a way to express whatever it is the artist wants to express.
“An artists’ book,” she said, “is the way the author wants to express themselves. It’s a form of creativity and expression so other people can enjoy what the author enjoys.”
Duffy described the books as something to look at, more than read.
“It definitely gave me ideas,” she said. “It gave me this idea to have pages that fold into each other, so it appears small but when it’s unfolded it’s bigger than twice the size of when it was folded.”
According to Re, the Artists’ Books Open House is an annual event.
“It’s a special collection of books that can’t live on the shelf,” she said. “Some are rare, fragile or special edition. There’s all different types of binding, like flip books, accordion books. We make an exhibition of them once or twice a year. Classes come in to see the collection throughout the year – English classes, graphic designers. There’s books on every topic, from business to women’s history. It’s a really multidisciplinary collection.”
According to Duffy, there were also art-related books as well as other books that had to do with specific artists and even just story books. Campanaro said the books are about anything, from food and the moon to Venice.
“My favorite (book from the collection),” said Campanaro, “is ‘Arch.’ It has cool cutouts. It’s a folding book with intricate cut-outs and figurines. There’s writing in it, too. When you close it, it goes into a glass case and it looks like something you’d find in a museum.”