Friday, November 6, 2009

NCWA: Hard Copy, Book as Sculpture

Written by Bonnie Julien, edited by Michele Olsen

National Museum of Women in the Arts

One lovely Mother's Day a couple of years ago my daughter gave me a copy of The Book as Art: Artists' Books from the National Museum of Women in the Arts. (Note:  part of the NORBAG library) This book has almost 200 pages of photographs of fabulous books by many of the premier women book artists in the world AND these books are among the more than 800 in the permanent collection of the museum.  I knew that I had to visit this place. The opportunity finally came when we spent a week in the Baltimore/Washington D.C. area with our friends from Germany. The exhibit we were able to see, Hard Copy: Book as Sculpture, runs through January 17, 2010. Unfortunately, it was a small exhibit of only 15 books while the hundreds of other artist books were not on display.

The museum, located at 1250 New York Avenue, is just a few blocks from the White House. Although the book exhibit was well done, we were disappointed that most of the 15 books displayed were included in my book, mentioned above. When we asked about the permanent collection we were directed to the 4th floor, which turned out to be completely devoid of human life. We did find the library, discovering several display cases of artist books.  Happily we poured over the displays later discovering that the library was open by appointment only. I have no idea where the museum/library staff was that day, but apparently we were very lucky to have been able to see these additional books. It was definitely worth a visit to this museum. If a trip to Washington D.C. isn't in your immediate future, I recommend that you purchase or borrow The Book as Art and also check out:
1)  The museum website: 
2)  Images of the books are available using the link below. Look under "Press Kit" and click on "Illustrated checklist (pdf)" and/or "Press Image Gallery".

Note from Michele:  It was a real treat to see these books as most of the artists were unknown to me. If any of you know of other internet sites featuring these artists, please leave as a comment. Thank you Bonnie!

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