Monday, December 13, 2010

Must-See Artists' Books from Women's Studio Workshop

HAND, VOICE & VISION exhibit at the Grolier Club celebrates book arts.

by Stephen J. Gertz

The work of thirty-six artists published over the last thirty years by the Women's Studio Workshop will be on display at the Grolier Club from December 8, 2010 to February 5, 2011.

Amanda Kalinoski
Patterned Pleasures, 2009. 1/50.
Explores the beauty of mating rituals.
Screenprint and letterpress create
patterns that entice the viewer to
discover the splendor of sexuality.
Accordion bound in boards.

Claire Rau
How to Eat Your Enemy, 2006. 1/25.
Based upon a 14th century MS of
Richard the Lion Heart's crusaders, and
the infamous Most Wanted Iraqi card deck.
Letterpress and silkscreen. Jacob's ladder-fold.

Curated by Kathleen Walkup, Hand, Voice & Vision is a comprehensive retrospective featuring some of the most influential contemporary book artists in America. It highlights three facets that characterize the artists' book program at Women's Studio workshop: the hand-made mark of the book-maker, the unique voices and viewpoints of a broad and diverse range of artists, and the visionary nature of artwork that forges new directions in the medium of book arts.

Dani Leventhal
Skim Milk and Soft Wax, 2008. 1/36.
Exploring her Jewish identity through
"the land of milk and honey," she uses
skim milk and wax as metaphors for her
complex emotions about Israel.
Intaglio, letterpress, silkscreen,
digitally printed. Hardcover.

Barbara Leoff Burge
None of Your Damn Business, 2010. 1/55.
Briefly chronicles the life of Yang Huanyi,
the last writer of "Nushu," a secret Chinese
women's language.  Silkscreen and
digitally printed, accordion bound.

Woman's Studio Workshop was founded in 1874 by four artists committed to developing an alternative space in which artists could both create new work and share skills. Ann Kalmbach, Tatana Kellner, Anita Wetzel, and Barbara Leoff Burge established programs that were centered on the artistic process and often informed by feminist values.

Erica Van Horne
Seven Lady Saintes, 1985. 1/90.
Illustrated MS describing the lives
of seven female saints. Silkscreen.

Piece of KaKe Art
Pistol/Pistil, 1997. 1/100.
Words in both botanical and military
context are examined and juxtaposed
with stories and images of farming and
violence. Silkscreen, accordion-fold.
Bound in wooden covers with leather
straps secured with bullet casings.

In 1979, the Woman's Studio Workshop established a publishing program for the production and distribution of artists' books, a genre of creative work focusing on the book as a material object.

Tatana Kellner
Fifty Years of Silence, 1992. 1/50.
The artist preserved her father's
concentration camp memories
contrasted with family photographs.
The original manuscript is reproduced
on transparent interleaved pages.
Die-cut pages fall around a paper cast
of her father's forearm w/camp tattoo.
Silkscreen and cast handmade paper.

Ann Kalmbach and Tatana Kellner
Headdress, 1983. 1/75.
A wearable artist book that opens to
allow 12 images of party hats to cascade
to the floor. Silkscreened accordion strip.

Ann Lovett
Relation, 2000. 1/200.
Explores the constantly shifting network
of connections and separations inherent
in the fabric of intimate relationships.
Flat book opens into a sculptural piece.
Accordion-bound in boards.

Thirty years later, the Woman's Studio Workshop has published more than 170 books from its etching, letterpress, silkscreen, and papermaking studios. It is now the largest publisher of hand-printed artists' books in the United States.

Women's Studio Workshop
Rosendale, NY

All images courtesy of the Grolier Club and the Women's Studio Workshop, with our thanks.

View the entire archive of the Women's Studio Workshop here.

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