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New Artists’ Books in Special Collections!

July 6, 2021

UTSA Special Collections is currently home to more than 250 artists’ books. For the unfamiliar, an artists’ book is a work of art that derives its inspiration from the form or function of the concept of the book. It has been a few years since we have shared any of the artists’ books we have added to Special Collections, so please allow me to update you on some of our most recent acquisitions.

Which side are you on? by Bonnie Thompson Norman is an accordion-folded book attached at either end to tan-cloth-covered boards. The inspirations for this artists’ book were the issues of building a wall between the United States and Mexico as well as the caging of migrant children being major news items in February 2019. Norman recognized how her comfortable life made her “both complicit and implicitly responsible for these and other injustices to exist and to continue”. She sees making artists’ books and broadsides as a way for her to call attention to these issues and hopefully make a difference.

Next up is the 2019 artists’ book Talisman by Ellen Knudson. Talisman is a small artists’ book, small enough to fit in your pocket. Its size is purposeful as it is meant as an offering of support to creative people who might be feeling alone. I doubt Ellen Knudson could’ve known how many creatives would need little moments of feeling less alone over the following year.

The book is a single page, double-sided linoleum-block printing on Okawara paper, which has been folded up to a size smaller than the average cell phone. If you unfold the sheet, you will find the image of a grackle, which Knudson included as a kind of spirit guide through rough terrain. The grackle feels like an appropriate familiar to lead folks through troubled times–grackles are highly resilient and adaptive birds who can make their homes where others can’t.

Common threads, Volume 119: Composition by Candace Hicks is an artists’ book by Stephen F. Austin State University School of Art Assistant Professor, Candace Hicks. Hicks crafts incredible canvas composition books for her series “Common Threads”. Each volume is hand-stitched, hand-embroidered, and includes a journal entry by Hicks. Unlike many of our other artists’ books, which are part of limited edition runs, each of Hicks’ Common Threads volumes are one-of-a-kind.

2020: a fiasco by Todd M. Thyberg is a cathartic look at the horrors of America in 2020. Our copy is actually the artists’ proof as the edition of 22 sold out very quickly. The book “cover” is a resin-cast, hand-painted dumpster complete with a torn American flag on the side. Inside is a shredded copy of the Bill of Rights along with 13 hand-drawn images depicting major events/figures from 2020 with descriptions on the back of each. This artists’ book perfectly encapsulates how many Americans felt about 2020.

To learn about other artists’ books in our Rare Books Collection, please see my Artists’ Books research guide.

One Comment leave one →
  1. July 12, 2021 5:53 am

    Brilliant additions. Thanks for sharing.

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