This last weekend, I organized a studio outing with my cohort. I had received an invitation to attend an opening that was being curated by one of my old undergraduate teachers from NIU at Western Exhibitions. The theme of the show was Plant Life. I figured that I would go as I haven’t seen a lot of people from NIU in a while and it would be good to catch up. When I looked at the event page a little closer, I noticed that there were two show openings that nite: the one that my old teacher was curating AND…wait for it…a book show!!
This solidified it. I had to go to this show. I sent out invitations to my cohort, via the Facebook event page (obviously, since its 2013, haha) and through group email… And, I reminded them every chance I got. Sorry to be so pushy, guys—I was just excited.
I headed in a few minutes before the group to see if I would run into any old classmates that I would want to see… Not so much—just some old clique stuff I didn’t really care to relive. I headed into the book exhibit and was thrilled to see that people were avidly checking it out. A line had formed around the room, and people were actually handling the books! Really, seriously picking them up and thumbing through them. It was so refreshing and encouraging to see this; often times, books will get overlooked in a gallery space. It was great to have a space entirely dedicated to books at the gallery and a very smart move to place tags around the space to encourage people to engage with the books, with one exception.
This was my first time being able to go out with my cohort since the move and even further back than that, since early last semester. It was one of the things that I felt was a huge downfall to my commute up until recently. Although we were together in most of our classes and experiences together in school, I often felt slightly left out when they would go out after class and I would have to rush off to catch my train. Plus, I got some bonus cool-points for being invited to the show by the curator. I made the rounds with them again. We exchanged thoughts on what books were each others’ favorites and then perused the mostly-painting show on the other side. I’ll admit that I was taken aback a bit when my peers starting asking my opinion on the pieces in the show and we got to run through some critique.
So, yeah, there are book shows in Chicago. There are book shows that are being handled in a way that respects the book medium. This is very encouraging coming into my second semester here In the Interdisciplinary Book and Paper Arts MFA program. I can’t wait for our next group outing.