New Book Arts Exhibits Now on Display in Olin Library

Three new exhibitions at Olin Library celebrate Washington University’s book arts community. Featuring works by Washington University faculty and students, as well as pieces from the University Libraries’ rare book collections, the exhibits highlight the many techniques, interpretations, and possibilities for experimentation and play that the book arts medium affords makers.

Buzz Spector, Praise for the Calligrapher, 2014, collage

The exhibit “Buzz Spector: Works On and Of Paper” is on view in the Thomas Gallery on Level 1 of Olin Library. Buzz Spector is a professor of art in the Sam Fox School who uses the book as a concept for exploration and as raw material in his work. Tearing pages and stacking books, he creates pieces that seem sculptural and that challenge traditional definitions of the book. The exhibit features examples of this deconstructive approach, along with samples of Spector’s photography, collage work, and poetry.

Spector began teaching at Washington University in 2009 and will retire at end of the spring semester. The recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, he has also taught at Cornell University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His work will be in the Thomas Gallery through June 2019.

Also on display through June is the exhibit “Ken Botnick: Making Books by Hand,” located in the Newman Tower of Collections on Level 1 of Olin Library. Ken Botnick teaches in the Sam Fox School. The exhibit showcases his innovative experiments in printing and typography and features books made in collaboration with writers Mary Jo Bang and William Gass. The exhibit also includes Diderot Project, a limited-edition book inspired by Botnick’s work with the University Libraries’ copy of Denis Diderot’s Encyclopédie.

Ken Botnick, A Defense of the Book by William Gass, 2001, letterpress printed

Before coming to Washington University in 1997, Botnick designed books for Princeton Architectural Press, taught at the Yale School of Design, and served as executive director of the Penland School of Crafts. He is now in partial retirement and will teach through spring 2020.

Since 1997, Botnick has directed the Nancy Spirtas Kranzberg Studio for the Illustrated Book, a fully operational book and print production facility at Washington University. A collaboration between the University Libraries and the Sam Fox School’s College of Art, the studio promotes the study of bookmaking and integrates materials from the Libraries’ rare book collections.

The studio is highlighted in the Libraries’ third new exhibit, “Kranzberg Studio, Recollected: A Retrospective of the Nancy Spirtas Kranzberg Studio for the Illustrated Book,” on view in the Ginkgo Room on Level 1 of Olin. The exhibit was curated by Washington University Libraries’ 2018 Book Arts Fellows: Lara Head, Amanda Im, Yena Jeong, Jee Kim, and Madeleine Underwood.

The Libraries’ Book Arts Fellows program was made possible by a generous grant from the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation. The program provides a mentoring opportunity for book arts students at Washington University.

Ethiopic prayer book, ca. 18th century, from Washington University Libraries’ Rare Book Collections

In the fall, the Book Arts Fellows collected and curated materials for “Kranzberg Studio, Recollected” in coordination with the University Libraries’ Curator of Rare Books, Cassie Brand. The students oversaw every element of the exhibit, from selecting the theme and title and deciding on which items to include, to designing the accompanying brochure and writing exhibit text.

The exhibit features books made by the fellows and by students enrolled in courses taught through the Kranzberg Studio. It also showcases rare books from the University Libraries’ collections that have inspired students in their work. A celebration of the book arts on campus and of the enduring partnership that exists between the Kranzberg Studio and the Libraries, the exhibit will be up through the end of April.

A reception celebrating the new exhibits will take place February 28 at 4:30 p.m. on Level 1 of Olin Library. The event is free and open to the public.



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