The handmade artist books on display for the next three weeks in the Hawthorne-Longfellow Library include an elegant monster bestiary, a how-to manual for making cupcakes and community, and a narrative about a community-service trip to an impoverished community in New Jersey.
The books were made by students in Assistant Professor of Art Carrie Scanga’s Printmaking I class. This year, instead of having her students design a series of prints that might hang together on a wall, Scanga asked her class to create narratives for books.
“With a book, you turn pages,” Scanga said. “Books have pacing. It can’t help but become performative and time based.” She added that this project forced her students to more carefully imagine their viewers, as they had to think through how someone else would read or observe their book’s pages. “You have to think about the person you’re in relationship with,” Scanga said.
The class of 18 students also worked with visiting artist Rebecca Goodale, a bookmaker whose work is included the Bowdoin library’s collections.
The students’ projects contain a variety of printmaking techniques, including copper etchings, drypoint prints and linocuts, which have been bound together in stitched, accordion-fold, or flag-bound books. Also featured in the exhibition are books by Lindsey Horowitz ‘12, an English major and printmaking teaching assistant.
Scanga described a few of the works, including one by Celina Garcia ’15. “She created a book with a lot of pop-up structures made of etchings. It takes you into a domestic world that looks familiar, but like a magic rabbit hole, it leads you into a deep sea word with real and imagined ocean creatures swimming around. It’s a surreal story about imagination.”
Scanga said student Coby Horowitz’s “luscious-looking” book includes all the ingredients that go into making a cupcake, as well as those for “community, family, love and belonging.”
Horowitz ‘14 said he started off by creating an ode of sorts to cupcakes, and ended up including the origins behind his love of the dessert. “It evolved into a book showing the things that make up a great cupcake (funfetti cake, strawberry filling and love) to the things that cupcakes remind me of and are why I enjoy cupcakes so much, specifically my own first birthday (family, childhood and blue toys).”
Fabiola Navarrete ’14 created a book based on her Alternative Spring Break trip to Camden, N.J., where many of the residents live in poverty. The book begins with two closed eyes and ends with two open eyes, and in between contains beautiful prints of the city. Navarrete said, “Camden is being left for dead, people are leaving it for dead, but it still has so much potential. It can still be brought back to its feet and be the great city it was before.”
David Bean ’13 said he made an accordion pop-up book inspired by a recent plane trip to California. Looking out the window from the low-flying plane, he said, “I thought it was amazing to see the clouds casting shadows on the ground below. When we began making artist books, I wanted to recreate this effect.” He designed a drypoint etching of an aerial view of his hometown, using Google maps and memory.
Scanga said she was impressed by the inspiration and imagination students brought to the project. “They took such individual path with this project and labored toward thoughtful, original works,” she said.
The printmaking exhibition will be in the library until May 28, and will be included with the other downtown galleries open to the public for tonight’s ArtWalk.