By Liz Hitchcock
The Crouch Fine Arts Library has recently added on to the Maddy Rosenberg Collection of unique artist books.
Emerging as a new and innovative form of art, artist books are becoming a popular way to display an artists’ work.
Many artists vary in their chosen techniques to create these books, ranging from a detailed, paper pop-up books to books made of more unorthodox mediums such as glass.
“Most universities are starting to collect these [books], if they hadn’t already,” said artist Maddy Rosenberg, owner of Central Booking, a gallery space in New York City, and the nameskae of the collection.
Rosenberg, a previous visiting artist to the Baylor art department, brought a small group of her own artist books to campus on her visit in 2003. After showing them to Sha Towers, the director of music and fine arts librarian, the library decided to not only start a collection of artist books of its own, but purchase all the books that Rosenberg brought.
“A lot of [Rosenberg’s] work is in this idea of taking the book form and kind of pushing it to the brink and using that as a mode of expression,” Towers said.
Since 2003, Towers’ goal for the 180-piece collection is to expand it as much as possible, bringing in books from Central Booking and another bookseller called Vamp and Tramp.
“The absolute most fun part of the collections here is the artist books,” Towers said. “That has been kind of an ever-present goal is to just keep aggressively building that collection.”
The newest addition to the collection contains 18 books by various artists and was selected from around 120 artists that Central Booking represents. Each book is unique in representing different techniques and styles of artist books.
“At this stage, one of the things I’m trying to do with the collection is broaden the representation of different artists,” Towers said, “but also different techniques and different styles.”
Rosenberg stays in contact with Baylor’s libraries and is happy to see the collection growing so students can view more work by the 120 artists she represents.
She said she was pleased to see the group that Baylor ordered and that she could send the library artists she had not sold books from yet.
Artist books can come as small as a matchbox or as large as a TV screen, depending on the medium and the goals of the artist.
“One of the books is a one-of-a-kind glass book, that sits on a metal stand,” Rosenberg said. “Each page is in glass and has been printed and drawn on. So it’s a very unusual kind of an artist book. It’s relatively large and is kind of a sculpture.”
Books can include words and images, and some of Rosenberg’s own work in the collection includes excerpts from “Pickman’s Model” by H.P. Lovecraft.
“A lot of book artists come from the printmaking world,” Rosenberg said. “It’s just natural. It is a way of basically extending the flatness of two dimensional prints into something that is more sequential, three dimensional and more time based as well.”
Towers mentioned that not many people request to view the collection, since it is by appointment only, but he welcomes classes to visit.
“We have classes come over to explore the artist books,” Towers said. “There was a class that came in from the art department where their final project was actually creating an artist book.”
James Floyd, public services coordinator, said that the library is still looking for a way to display the books since they are interactive and viewers need to handle them to get the full effects, and the books still do not have a permanent home in the library yet.
“It is a special collection that we are happy to pull down [to show students],” Floyd said. “But it is by appointment only so the students may get scared off by that.”
The Maddy Rosenberg Collection can be viewed by request through the Crouch Fine Arts Library on the third floor of Moody Library.