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[BKARTS] Graduate School Report Card



Those who regularly get Update, the Editions newsletter will recognize the
following report from Issue #13 (June 2000):

Graduate School Report Card

When my last newsletter came out I had just enrolled at Purchase College,
State University of New York, working on a Master's of Fine Arts in the Book
Arts. I returned to school so that I could learn new techniques, work with
new people and explore new directions. I was aware at the outset that the
Purchase book arts program existed in name only. There were no dedicated
book arts professors and the college, at best, had a disinterested approach
to the program. My one year stay at Purchase was a success in some ways and
a disappointment in others.

Several new books and book related projects emerged. Baggage Claim
(www.artistbooks.com/editions/bagclaim.html) resulted from working with
Jennifer Magee in the letterpress studio. An offset printing class with Brad
Freeman produced Album (www.artistbooks.com/editions/album1.html), a
flexagon that flexes to present a series of biographical pictures, and Three
Artist Books, a 3-D card that reveals three different books when viewed from
different angles. On the many trips into Manhattan I picked up the post
cards that were used for New York City Transit
(www.artistbooks.com/editions/nyctransit.html). As part of the "community"
study group for the Spring Graduate Seminar, we had a piņata and it was
packed with candy and multi-colored copies of Piņata Party (copy enclosed)
that cascaded down like a flight of butterflies when the piņata burst open.

A major project for the Spring semester, and one of the most rewarding, was
being co-editor with Professor Margot Lovejoy, for Calling on Artists:
Graduate Students Explore the Artist Vocation, a series of seventeen
inter-views conducted by members of the Graduate Seminar. Since some of my
books have just a few words, editing 64 pages of text was a new challenge.
One of the short-comings of the Purchase program was a lack of faculty
involvement, so it was a treat to work with Margot. She has not only
expanded the parameters of the book, but is also an expert on contemporary
electronic media.

Two other books were started at Purchase and will be finished when I return
from Mexico: Timed Release is a series of gum prints whose release is
controlled by a clock mechanism, and Curtain Up and Coming Out, is a
block-printed tunnel book with moving parts and short biographies of eight
lesbian and gay playwrights from the past five centuries.

One of the design instructors invited me to teach a demonstration class. In
three hours we constructed over 30 book structures made from a single sheet
of paper.

As part of my Arts Management class I planned and organized a fictional
non-profit organization called "Books Across Borders" that promoted
international understanding through the book arts. Finally, as part of the
college's annual Teachers' Workshop Day, I conducted a program that explored
ways to incorporate the book arts into the classroom curriculum. If I found
the book arts program uninspiring, I found exciting opportunities in the
Arts Management, Gay Studies and Continuing Education departments at
Purchase College.

I learned much and accomplished a lot during that first year. At the end of
the year a lot of money had been spent and I was way behind in the Editions
studio in Cairo. I took a year off to catch up financially and knock down
some of the backlog in the studio. When it came time to return to school I
had to recognize that Purchase did not offer a viable book arts program. I
weighed what could be accomplished by continuing the graduate program and
what could be achieved by pursuing other endeavors. By not returning I was
able to organize the Book Arts Jamboree, launch Book Central and finish the
books that I needed for my solo show at UCLA and later, Harvard University.
I'm sorry that I didn't get the degree, but I've learned that the best way
to deal with disappointment is to find success in other areas. I am happy to
leave the academic environment to others and to concentrate my efforts of
the front lines of the book arts community.

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