Fifty years of book arts at UW-Madison is the subject of a new exhibition at the Chazen

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Fifty years of book arts at UW-Madison is the subject of a new exhibition at the Chazen
Jim Lee, A'tugwaqan: Three Mi'kmaq Indian Stories, 2009, Blue Moon Press, Glastonbury, Connecticut, with folklore collected by Ruth Holmes Whitehead.

MADISON, WIS.- Speaking of Book Arts: Oral Histories from UW–Madison is a first-time collaboration between the Chazen Museum of Art, Kohler Art Library, and UW Archives. The Chazen and the Kohler Art Library both mark 50th anniversaries in 2020. Curated by Lyn Korenic, director of the Kohler Art Library and Tracy Honn, former director of Silver Buckle Press, the exhibition covers fifty years of book arts at the university. Interviews with 21 students and teachers (past and present) recorded by the UW–Madison Archives Oral History Program are presented alongside examples of their works from the Kohler Art Library’s Artists’ Book Collection.

“We are delighted to showcase the Kohler Art Library’s outstanding collection of artist books with this unique exhibition,” said Chazen Director Amy Gilman. “It brings attention to one of our major campus partners, and is an important part of the museum's (and the library's) 50th anniversary year. 

The decision to use the interviews from the oral history archives was so important. It allows artist's voices to be present while viewers see the finished work and opens up wonderful opportunities for discovery and conversation about the artistic process.”

Each of the two Garfield galleries feature a customized sound installation of recent interviews with book artists who studied and/or taught book arts at UW–Madison. A printed audio guide will help orient visitors to the books described in the audio recordings and provide access for the hearing impaired. The sound installation was engineered by Craig Eley, using interviews conducted in 2018 and 2019.

The exhibition has three sections: Instruction, Collaboration, and Practice. Audio segments were chosen to illustrate the sections, and the selected books primarily represent the work of subjects of the oral histories. The combination of audio and visual materials in the gallery offers visitors an immersive experience. Voices help viewers see the books in the context of their making through the stories and recollections of the speakers who made them.

Speaking of Book Arts: Oral Histories from UW–Madison is on view February 1–April 19, 2020, in the Leslie and Johanna Garfield Galleries, open daily 11 a.m.–8 p.m.

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