As a reader and a writer, I love books. I look forward to the possibilities within their pages, enjoy the feel of a book in my hands (although I also read digital books from time to time), and savour the story within. I appreciate both the art of the words and the art of the book cover design. At Art of the Book 2018, a visual art exhibition, I discovered a different kind of book art, that of artists’ books and book art.
Artists’ books are works of art in book or book-like form. Books are the artistic medium. The book is used in conjunction with a myriad of techniques, designs, and other materials to create a work of art. A statement in a 2012 Smithsonian Libraries article What is an artist’s book? says, “artists’ books exist at the intersections of printmaking, photography, poetry, experimental narrative, visual arts, graphic design, and publishing.”
Art of the Book is an international exhibition organized every five years by the Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild (CBBAG). The Guild supports, promotes, and seeks to inspire participating in traditional bookbinder and contemporary book arts.
Art of the Book 2018 is an international juried exhibition of book arts that opened in Victoria, British Columbia in August 2018 before beginning a two-year tour across Canada. Works by more than 60 artists are featured in the exhibition. Awards have been issued for fine binding, artists’ books, calligraphy, papermaking, boxmaking, paper decoration, and Japanese paper.
The works were artfully (no pun intended) arranged in display cases. Cards beside the works listed the type of work, name of the piece, and the artist.
I saw Book of the Art 2018 when it showed in Winnipeg (August 22 to October 3, 2019) at Centre Culturel Franco-Manitobain. The book art was beautiful and fascinating to look at. Other than the cards with the name of the piece and the artist, there was no other information about the artist or the work on display. One copy of the print catalogue containing more detailed information sat beside the guest book, but I would have preferred more easily accessible information. Still I enjoyed the exhibition and have discovered a whole new way to look at books.