November 1 – December 29, 2022

The artists’ book is an elusive art form that rarely assumes pride of place in the contemporary art world. It takes its many modalities from printmaking, letterpress printing, bookbinding, painting and drawing, paper engineering and sometimes sculpture. Although artists’ books are collected by museums and libraries and private patrons like you and me, they present anomalies to their eventual owners. Books are by nature personal, usually small in scale, always intimate in experience…and yet, with artists’ books in particular, that intimacy is often minimized by displaying them in closed cases and vitrines in museums and locking them away in library special collections. Even to handle them casually at a book fair requires donning cotton gloves and examining the book in question under the protective gaze of their makers and sellers.

Fragile objects, no doubt, often unique objects, sometimes textless, sometimes containing nothing but text, sometimes with an inevitably high price tag that has to be explained to the casual bystander who cannot quite grasp the idea of a book as a work of art: yes, the challenges are many for the makers of such books. And yet the artists’ book has thrived from its “invention” in the late nineteenth century as a fine press version of established literary texts right through to the twenty-first century and the now quaint-seeming claims that books of all kinds would disappear in a newly digitized universe. And yet again, artists’ books are rarely included in canonical art histories. There is, as yet, no standard history of the artists’ book that includes all the critical and aesthetic apparatuses that are second nature to any discussion of painting or sculpture or architecture. It’s not that artists’ books were written out of art history but rather that they were never written in. (One of you must volunteer to do this, of course.)

This exhibition includes the work of Zea Mays Printmaking members who, alongside their printmaking practice, create meaningful and often beautiful books in a variety of forms and mediums. The connective tissue that links all the book artists in the exhibition is an exploration of process, hence the double entendre of the exhibition title. I asked each artist to provide a brief statement about process and technique as it has long been my curatorial belief that artists’ books require contextual texts and labels just like any other object, possibly even more so. You don’t have to read all the texts and labels, of course. There is plenty of the purely visual here in which to luxuriate. The books on display here, along with sketches and diagrams and mock-ups, are both finished and unfinished pieces, parts of ongoing series or unique objects that begin and end within the covers of the book (if it has covers). These books clearly resonate with their author/creators and I believe they will resonate with you as well.

-Rich Turnbull, curator/organizer, October 2022

Featuring works from Olivia Arau-McSweeney, Liz Chalfin, Krista Feichtinger, Jennifer Gover, Elisa Lanzi, Doris Madsen, Ann Miller, Therese Moriarty, Annie Rogers, Bobbie Salthouse and Rich Turnbull.

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