Artists' books are generally defined as works of art that are derived from, or inspired by, actual books. Given this definition, it's not surprising to find out that librarians are prolific creators of artists' books. And artists' books created by librarians are the subject of a new exhibit at the Denver Public Library, Bibliothecarii et Glutinatores.
The exhibit, which is housed in the Gates Reading Room on Floor 5 of the Central Library through April 15, 2017, is curated by Abecedarian Artists' Book Director Alicia Bailey. For the exhibit, Bailey selected works from artists across the country who work at libraries in all capacities.
While the definition of artists' books can be stretched to include a wide variety of works, as Bibliothecarii et Glutinatores reveals, some of them are actually made from real books. For example, The Collected Poetry of Dorothy Parker, a piece by Telluride-based artist and Managing Director of the American Academy of Bookbinding Katie Baum, features a Bradel binding, a black leather spine and is printed on Nepalese Lokta paper.
Other pieces in the exhibit play directly to libraries and the keen sense of nostalgia invoked by card catalogs and paper check out slips. In Americans: citizens of the world, Oakland artist and library technician Mary V. Marsh uses obsolete check out cards to string together a powerful response to the 9/11 attacks.
Artists' books, whether they're done by librarians or not, come in all shapes and sizes and are truly unique pieces of art. The Denver Public Library's Western History and Genealogy Department is pleased to host this exhibit through the end of April and, of course, we keep our own collection of artists' books in the Douglas Fine Printing Collection.
Bibliothecarii et Glutinatores is free and open to the public during regular library hours.