Object Focus: The Book Selections from the Reed College Artists’ Book Collection

Release date: 09/02/10

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Object Focus: The Book is the first in a series of Museum exhibitions which will deny the lines often drawn between art, craft and design. The exhibition focuses on selections of work from Reed College’s Artists’ Book Collection, and gives viewers the opportunity to explore how the book functions as a form, a site and an interactive object.

Curated by Geraldine Ondrizek, Professor of Art, Reed College and Namita Gupta Wiggers, Curator, Museum of Contemporary Craft with assistance by Barbara Tetenbaum, Head of Book Arts, Oregon College of Art and Craft, the exhibition focuses on works collected by Ondrizek for Reed College’s Collection between 1996 to 2010. The majority of the works will be publicly exhibited for the first time in Portland. On view in conjunction with Collateral Matters: Selections by Kate Bingaman-Burt and Clifton Burt (August 26, 2010 – January 8, 2011), together these exhibitions offer visitors the opportunity to see local archives and collections.

To both preserve the texts and to activate the exhibition for visitors, new pages will be revealed weekly throughout the duration of the exhibition, offering glimpses of multiple pages on return visits. Selected works will be accompanied by videos showing pages being turned, providing greater access to the works on view. The Reed College Artists’ Book Web Site and an interactive study table, in addition to texts created by Ondrizek, Tetenbaum and Reed College students Anna De Filippi, Ella Gold and Claire Siepser, will physically engage audiences with artists’ books and provide historical context. Students through the Pacific Northwest College of Art’s Center 4 Design (C4D) program will design graphics and a downloadable zine in conjunction with the exhibition.

The exhibition features a sampling of the range of modern and contemporary Artists’ Books in the Reed College Artists’ Book Collection. Selections include traditional and contemporary letterpress-printed books of poetry, conceptual book works, sculptural and visual books, concrete poetry and zines. The collection focuses on the artist book as an extension of artistic practice and the book as an alternative space from the early avant-garde to the present. For Object Focus: The Book, the curators identified works which reveal technical and conceptual depth, providing an introduction to the range of ways in which the book is employed by artists, craftspeople and designers.

The exhibition presents artists’ books by well-known modern and contemporary artists Carl Andre, Marcel Duchamp, William Kentridge, Ed Ruscha, Kara Walker and Ai Weiwei. Connecting names of prominent artists in broader contemporary art circles with less commonly known handmade artist books, the exhibition includes work by such artists as Inge Bruggeman, Walter Hamidy, Jim Lee and Angela Lorenz. Revealing the geographic diversity of the collection, works by such regional artists as Ian Boyden, Vanessa Renwick and recent PNCA graduate Anthony Roberto ’10 will be on view alongside works by international artists from China, Germany and Russia.

By placing more recognizable artists’ book forms in juxtaposition with rare holdings such as SMS, a collaborative portfolio project that includes works by Robert Rauschenberg, Marcel Duchamp and Yoko Ono, the exhibition offers an opportunity to consider the book as a form that crosses the disciplinary boundaries of the visual arts. The exhibition features a full 6-volume set of SMS portfolios. Shown in combination with deluxe books and monographs, these publications, along with zines, design magazines and creative anthologies challenge viewers to consider a broad range of materials, process and intent.

“This unique collection, of significant 20th century and contemporary artists’ books, gives students and the broader population insight into the significant role artists’ books have played among the avant-garde of Eastern and Western Europe, Asia and the United States, from the turn of the last century to the present,” explains curator Geraldine Ondrizek. “Collection building is a way for institutions, such as colleges, universities and museums to help preserve works for the future. These are spaces where our cultural heritage is housed, cared for, studied and examined by generations. To that end, Geraldine Ondrizek and Reed College faculty continue to build an outstanding collection of artists’ books, a resource that this exhibition can put into public view, providing a conduit between academia and the community,” says Museum of Contemporary Craft curator Namita Gupta Wiggers.

CRAFT CONVERSATION Exhibition walkthrough with curators Gerri Ondrizek (Reed College) and Barbara Tetenbaum (Oregon College of Art & Craft) Saturday, December 4, 2 pm The Lab at Museum of Contemporary Craft Free with Museum admission

RELATED CONTINUING EDUCATION OPPORTUNITIES AT PNCA Art of the Book September 29 – November 17, 2010