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(Fwd) New Jersey Symposium, report of proceeding


Title: A Sense of Place and the Book Arts: Contemporary Perspectives on Book
Arts and New Jersey

Sponsored by the Rutgers University Libraries and the Department of Visual and
Performing Arts, Rutgers-Newark

Organizers: Michael Joseph, Susan Swartzburg
Participating artists: John DePol, Alexandra Soteriou, Barbara Henry, Carol
Joyce, Maria Pisano, Iris Nevins

Morning session: presentations: AS showed slides and discussed her travels
through India learning about traditional papermaking from Indian, Silk Road and
Chinese papermakers; JDP reflected on 48 yrs of engraving, shared recent work;
BH discussed "schizoid" career as graphic artist/typographer: showed slides of
linoleum cut books and recounted how the death of her mother impacted the
development of _Album._ ; CJ described collaborations with Mahon, Snodgrass and
others, showed slides of traditional and non-traditional bindings; MP described
how her artist's books attempt to come to terms with the operations of memory;
IN reviewed marbling techniques, shared the dreamlife of a paper-marbler.

Afternoon session: SS looked at the broad history of book arts in the state,
touching on the contributions of the artists present and on past librarians and
book societies, in addition she mentioned the oeuvre of Joseph Ishill (see

Panel discussion: MJ quizzed artists, audience followed up.
Q}30 yrs ago the world was said to be getting smaller; are we now nowhere?
A}No. Telecommunications are a great tool. AS keeps in touch with Indian
villagers through e mail.

Q) Is our audience "nowhere?" Whom are we working *for*?
A) For anybody, everybody, present and absent.

Q) Are we enslaved by the past?
A) No. CJ thinks that since none of us underwent lengthy apprenticeships, as
book arts practitioners of the past, we are all free to develop our own,
independent styles.

Q) Where is our work taking us?
A) We don't know. That's why we do it.

Q) Are we decorating books because we want to design a place to live, a place
to be who we want to be?
A) Not necessarily. We look outside of ourselves when we work. Beyond

Q) What happens in a book?
A) Understanding (Alison Weld, painter); nothing, what happens happens inside
of the artist, or inside the beholder (Bob Mahon, photographer)

Q) What is the ideal book?
A) JDP "a book with lots of engravings."

Alison Weld responded by noting a line between artists and book-artists; book
artists are concerned with craft, fine artists are not; book artists are
concerned with making beautiful objects, fine artists are not; book artists
have a notion of history and tradition, fine artists think of history in terms
of the last 20 yrs, 50 yrs at most; book artists are concerned with qualtiy;
fine artists are concerned with content. AW asked "where is the avant garde in
book arts?"

SS replied that, when she was 25 she became bored with the lack of substance in
fine art, and turned to books instead.
Debra Weir, book artist, asked if the term 'avant garde' was not too confining
and even passe.
BH replied that in art school she found painting was becoming a contest to see
who could become most minimal, and that she became frustrated with art she
needed a book by Clement Greenberg in order to understand or appreciate. She
decided to put down Clement Greenberg and make her own books, instead. She said
that she, and others like her, 'fled' into book arts to escape the tyranny of
fine art.

Everyone agreed that the question of how fine arts and book arts relate is very
complicated and could be usefully taken up again, at a later date. With that,
the Symposium ended.

Michael Joseph

Michael Joseph
Rare Book and Jerseyana Catalog Librarian
Rutgers University Libraries
Rutgers University
New Brunswick, New Jersey

        voice: 908-445-5904
                emai: mjoseph@rci.rutgers.edu
                fax : 908-445-5888

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