Fall Travels: The New York Art Book Fair

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Over the course of the last three years, my classmates and I have had great opportunities to travel together. We’ve gone to many conferences, flown together, driven together, and piled into too small hotel rooms together. Each of our trips has been a wonderful experience—so when we found out about New York Art Book Fair, it was pretty much impossible for us to resist. We had to go, and this past weekend, we did!

To say it was awesome or wonderful or great would just not be saying enough. The New York Art Book Fair, an annual exhibition of work by publishers and artists’ book makers, blew our minds. It was held at MoMA PS1 in Brooklyn (we stayed in Queens, aka fancy grad school livin’). There were three (THREE!) gigantic floors of tables. I kept getting lost and going in circles and discovering more rooms and more books that I had yet to see. And there were so many people in attendance. The space was crawling with folks, mostly young folks. What a treat it was to experience, on such a grand scale, an interest in artists’ books and art publications. I had conversations with Dutch offset printers, bought a lovely book put out by a french gallery, and sat on the steps of the museum with my classmates like kids at Christmas looking at all the books we had found/fallen in love with.

And, the Interdisciplinary Book and Paper Arts MFA program was well-represented. Professor Clifton Meador was there sharing a table with fellow printer and book maker Phil Zimmerman, and our very own Journal of Artists’ Books (JAB) had a table too.

So, super wonderful.

Now, for the icing on the cake.

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Eight years ago, I took my first papermaking class and, as I’m sure I’ve said before, I was immediately hooked. In that class, I was introduced to a place called Dieu Donne. Dieu Donne is the premiere collaborative hand papermaking workspace in the country. Over the summer, I had the great opportunity to co-curate an exhibition that was 50% comprised of work from the Dieu Donne permanent collection. I also had the opportunity to study under the Dieu Donne master papermaker Paul Wong. So, as soon as I found out we would all be going to New York, I knew that I had to make a trip to Dieu Donne to see this place that had been on my papermaker’s radar for oh-so long.

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I went there first thing—I stepped off the plane in New York and headed to Dieu Donne. Amy Jacobs, Studio Collaborator and Education Manager at Dieu Donne, just happens to be a graduate of the Interdisciplinary Book and Paper Arts MFA program, so she kindly showed us around. It was amazing. I felt like I was meeting my idol, if an idol can be a place. Beautiful studios with the capacity for making 40” x 60” sheets of paper and an archive of work that I had only seen pictures of for so long.

To wrap it up, I came back to Chicago inspired. I am so glad I got to share yet another excellent travel experience with my classmates. I know all of us will be cranking out a lot of work influenced by all that we saw and discovered on this trip.