Book Arts

Minnesota Center for Book Arts (MCBA) Biennial and Prize, July 2013

Report by Sarah Bodman

This summer I was extremely honoured to be invited as one of the jurors for the 2013 Minnesota Center for Book Arts Prize – alongside Buzz Spector and Sandra Kroupa, and to present a talk at the related Book Art Biennial symposium at MCBA in July.

A view into the exhibition: 'Directed: The Intersection of Book, Film and Visual Narrative' at MCBA. Charlotte Hall's bookmaking in progress in the bindery area. The paper lanterns were the first part of the decorating for the gala weekend’s event – when the bindery transformed into a fancy cocktail bar, serving 'Baldessari' cocktails. MCBA's shop, a treasure trove of artists’ books and related items A small selection of type in MCBA's workshops.


‘Through workshops, lectures, panel conversations, film screenings and exhibitions, MCBA’s Book Art Biennial ‘Directed: The Intersection of Book, Film and Visual Narrative’ invited artists, educators, curators and scholars to explore current issues in contemporary artists’ books. 2013’s Biennial programming explored in depth the common threads between book art and film. Historically as well as in contemporary practice, artists blur and perforate the boundaries between these two disciplines, both of which are time-based and grounded in sequential visual communication. From examinations of contemporary innovations in visual narrative to the influence of classic filmmaking on midcentury book design, the 2013 Symposium continued a tradition of stimulating critical thinking and dialogue.’

Myself and Angie Butler – our PhD letterpress and artists’ books student, along with recent MA Printmaking graduates Hazel Grainger and Charlotte Hall spent 10 days at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts (MCBA) in Minneapolis, also working on a summer print and book arts project (Angie, Charlotte and Hazel), and presenting a round table (Angie).

Charlotte’s artist placement at MCBA was presented as a challenge to produce a new book edition in house, combining her passion for insects with the local landscape of Minneapolis. You can read all about the development of Insectapolis on her blog. The artist’s book is now in MCBA’s collection and held for sale in their gallery/shop. Insectapolis was also selected for Unfold – a celebration of contemporary artists’ books and book design at Londonprintstudio in September, as part of the London Design Festival 2013.

Charlotte’s book printing in progress The downtown Minneapolis skyline, inspiration for Charlotte’s book Insectapolis. Setting type to lino for Insectapolis. The Literary Commons exhibition Flip-Off, a competition and display of contemporary flipbooks. Hazel and Angie learning pressure printing in Regula Russelle's Creative Letterpress workshop. You can see a few more photos on Hazel's blog:

Angie and Hazel also made time to join Regula Russelle’s Creative Letterpress workshop, where they learned some new alternative printmaking techniques such as pressure printing, and printing on both sides of a translucent sheet simultaneously. Regula Russelle is a brilliant book artist, proprietor of Cedar Fence Press and member of MCBA’s Core Faculty, she is also a very generous teacher who has passed on her amazing skills to many others through her classes.

Exhibitions included: Directed: The Intersection of Book, Film and Visual Narrative, curated by MCBA Director Jeff Rathermel,complemented the Biennial’s theme through static, kinetic and performative works. The Literary Commons hosted Flip-Off, a competition and exhibition of contemporary flipbooks, and the work of the MCBA Prize winner and finalists were showcased in their prominent exhibition space.

And of course, we all went to the MCBA Book Art Biennial symposium and gala events! in particular: Directed: The Intersection of Book, Film and Visual Narrative.26th – 28th July 2013.


Talks on the 26 July included:

‘Director’s Cut: Manipulating the Viewer/Reader’ by Jeff Rathermel, MCBA Executive Director.
A great panel discussion chaired by Dr Betty Bright, screenings by artists including Render, Render’ by Thomas Lux and Angella Kassube and Old Time Film by Barbara Tetenbaum and Marilyn Zornado, and much more.

‘The Genuine Article: Reading Artists’ Books’ by Sandra Kroupa, Curator of Book Arts and Rare Books at the University of Washington Libraries.
‘Matter of Time: Duration, Reading, and the Book Object’ by Buzz Spector, book, installation and mixed media artist, and Dean of the College and Graduate School of Art in the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis.
‘Appropriation and Creation: Artists’ Books and Extant Narrative’ by Sarah Bodman, Senior Research Fellow for Artists’ Books at the Centre for Fine Print Research (CFPR), University of the West of England

Gala Event

Saturday 27th was the MCBA Prize 2013 Gala event, for which MCBA was transformed into a glittering venue with cocktail bars and presentations of the finalists’ books, before an Oscars-style, formal award ceremony, which was all very exciting and great fun!

The MCBA Prize for 2013 was awarded to Clifton Meador for ‘A Repeated Misunderstanding of Nature’ . Being one of the jurors was the hardest part of the trip, as standard of entries was high, and the finalists’ works were all excellent, so it was such a tough challenge to select just one book. Having previously narrowed the selection down from nearly 190 entries to five finalists, the last decision was even harder. In the end, Meador’s book was the one that really tipped the balance for all of us.

Finalists included:
Inge Bruggeman (Portland, OR), the infinite between us
Aaron Cohick / NewLights Press (Colorado Springs, CO), What You Will
Barbara Tetenbaum (Portland, OR) and Julie Chen (Berkeley, CA), Glimpse
Amy Borezo (Orange, MA), Labor/Movement (seven workers)
The jury also awarded three Special Recognitions of Merit:
Heidi Neilson (Long Island City, NY), Atlas Dream Sequence
Marlene MacCallum (Corner Brook, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada), Glaze: Reveal and Veiled
Maureen Cummins (High Falls, NY), Accounting

You can view all the artists’ books entered for the Prize, and the list of finalists and special recognition of merit awards at:

The Book Art Biennial Symposium

The Book Art Biennial Symposium followed on Sunday 28th July with a round table ‘Teaching the Book Arts ‘ discussion chaired by MCBA Executive Director Jeff Rathermel.

We had a wonderful time, meeting old friends and making new ones, viewing the exhibitions of books by national and international artists, and listening to talks and presentations. Thank you to all at MCBA for the opportunity and welcome to all of us, and hopefully see you again soon!