English 1102, Artists’ Books: Create, Destroy, Complicate
Professor: Michael Griffin
All books are multidimensional, spatial, and visual objects. An artists’ books, in many ways, seeks to enhance these inherent and often under-expressed qualities of the book’s form. Johanna Drucker opens her critical text on the subject, The Century of Artists’ Books, by noting that the “increased popularity of artists’ books can probably be attributed to the flexibility of the book form, rather than any single aesthetic or material factor.” And as such, this quality served as the primary topic of interrogation in this class was the flexible, multidimensional nature of the book. After spending half of the semester exploring artists’ books, visual narratives, and the roles of artists in the 20th- and 21st-century novel, students were tasked with creating an artist’s book of their own. The assignment was to identify consistent concepts present in artists’ books (which the class characterized using verbs: create, complicate, destroy) and use these concepts for inspiration in their own projects. Students participated in several workshops—at both the Robert C. Williams Museum of Papermaking and the Price Gilbert Library—Local artist, Ashley Schick provided guidance and inspiration to the students.