Wednesday, July 29, 2009

MCBA Book Art Biennial

This past weekend I attended the first annual Book Arts Biennial at the Minnesota Center for Book arts (MCBA). The theme of the day was Mature Content — the Artist's Book as Advocate. It was an interesting seminar, with the majority of the audience being book lovers. It is refreshing and hopeful that there is much support for the arts, especially book arts. It makes me feel like I really could pursue book arts and art as my profession - that I could make it and have people support me and understand why art is important. Not everyone thinks that - but I guess you just have to find those who do share your values.

So here are some of my notes. I apologize that this is long, but I wanted to write these down so I have a record.

Keynote speaker: John Risseeuw (professor at Arizona State University)
Books as agents of social change
  • Art can come of anger
  • Does your art have an affect? Remember, it may ring true with only one viewer, and that is okay
  • What matters most is the impact
  • You can inform people of social issues, and change them
  • However, in order to impact, you must distribute your views to a lot of people, and books aren't always the best method of doing this.
  • Multiples in book and print is important - multiples can reach many and be in more than one place at a time.

    Why do we make artists books?
  • It's what we do and love
  • Connects to people in a different way

  • Document something
  • Collaborate on something. The beauty of artists' books is that they are so often collaborative, and it's easy to get others involved.
  • Advocate for something. Promote. Be subtle, or not.
  • Commit yourself, and help others to commit.

    Panel Discussion 1 - Artists’ Books as Agents of Social Change: A Tool Kit
    Panelists: Susan Hensel, Jennifer Hibbard, Mike Elko, Scott McCarney
  • Use the expected in unexpected places
  • You can write about anything
  • Find the appropriate container for the store
  • Challenge yourself to work in more than one way - spread your ideas
  • People want to take part of the experience home. If you make an installation piece, consider making a small book or catalog documenting the experience that people can take along with them.
  • "Make something, take a picture of it, and tell somebody about it." -Susan Hensel
  • The internet is a good way to share - in an art gallery, only so many people will come through the doors, but thousands more will see the catalog or documentation online.
  • "People know how to interact with books..." -Jennifer Hibbard
  • "Keep doing the things that we think are right, and hope for the best." -Mike Elko
  • "Use the talent you have in the best way you can." -Susan Hensel

    Panel Discussion 2 - Book: The Object
    Panelists: Ruth Rogers, Karen Wirth, Tom Rose, Paulette Myers-Rich
  • Book artists are illuminators of personal struggle
  • Who is your audience? You need to consider this.
  • How necessary is it for books to be able to be handled and touched to convey their meaning? If you know people won't be able to handle your book in a gallery, consider making an accordian so it can be displayed in full.
  • Books are seeing how people think. They are thoughts made visible.

    What books do that the internet doesn't:
  • There's the experience of the book, tangible qualities, etc.
  • Books are individual and specific. You know who made it - less anonymous that online.
  • Books are slow art, they take time to look through and time to understand. They make people want to learn more.
  • Only available to one person at a time.
  • BUT the internet is better than print in that it is faster at spreading news/revolution.
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