by Molly Donnermeyer
In honor of Women’s History Month, The Mary R. Schiff Library and Archives will have a selection of rare artists’ books created by women on view throughout the month of March.
An Artist book is a form of artistic expression that uses the structure or function of the book as a starting point – a work of art in book form. While they take inspiration from what we traditionally understand to be a book, often the more interesting examples challenge the conventional. Text and images are often present, but are not required. They can be anything from a scroll, a book with folds and flaps, or even a box with small items contained within it. The resulting works are interactive, surprising, unique, and sometimes fragile requiring extra care to be taken in preserving them from being handled too often.
The examples on view at the library this month range from traditional to sculptural in nature. The imagery, concepts, form, and method vary, but all of the included works are by contemporary female artists. Included are works by Judy Anderson, Julie Chen, Jenny Holzer, Emily Payne, and Irene Shwachman. Each of them approaches the book in a very different way. One uses a deck of cards as the starting point to juxtapose text from news reports with the voice of one woman’s experiences, while another acts as a structure upon which the creator literally hangs the words of a poem recalling memories from childhood. Each of the books evokes a multitude of emotions and explores what it means to be a female artist.
Visit the Mary R. Schiff Library and Archives today to experience these intricate works in person, and to discover more materials from our collection featuring the lives and work of female artists throughout history, both local and from around the globe.