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University of Iowa News Release


Dec.  19, 2008

Photos (from top): University of Iowa Libraries’ Assistant Conservator Kristin Baum, one of the curators of "The Book in Time and Place," prepares for the exhibition's opening (click here for a high-resolution image); two of the books on display (click here for a high-resolution image).

Old Capitol Museum hosts handmade artist book exhibition

The Old Capitol Museum will present an exhibition of handmade artist books from Tuesday, Jan. 6 to Sun. Feb. 1 in the museum's second-floor rotunda. Titled "The Book in Time and Place," the exhibit was organized by the University of Iowa Center for the Book in conjunction with the first College Book Art Association biennial conference, which will be hosted by the Center for the Book in Iowa City Thursday, Jan. 8 to Saturday, Jan. 10.

Curated by UI Libraries' assistant conservator Kristin Baum and Center for the Book lecturers Sara Langworthy and Julia Leonard, "The Book in Time and Place" features 30 artist books from the UI Libraries Special Collections dating from the 1960s to the present.

"We chose books that correspond to the theme of the conference, which looks at the book both as art and cultural artifact," said Leonard. "These books address historical narrative, offer representations of place, and explore the experience of time and memory."

The term "artist book" refers to the utilization of the book as a method for artistic expression. Book artists experiment with the traditional physical and textual structure of books, rethinking the way a book can relay information to a reader, in both a visual and literary sense. "The Book in Time and Place" will display a range of artistic reinventions of the standard book.

Though diverse in subject matter, the pieces in the exhibition all show how artists have contemplated the nature of time and place in their lives. Whether in a scientific examination of mayflies in Minnesota, a photographic study of manhole covers, or a book composed of abstract, otherworldly paintings, the books' stories are told not only through words and pictures, but also in the reader's experience of them, down to the intricacy of a page turn, says Leonard.

The Old Capitol Museum's historic building offers the perfect setting for interacting with such intimate objects, said Kathrine Moermond, education and outreach coordinator for the Old Capitol Museum.

"We want to serve as center for cultural and civic discourse for the state of Iowa by bringing relevant and quality programming in the arts and humanities to the community," she said. "Particularly now, in the wake of Iowa City's recognition as a UNESCO City of Literature, we felt this was the perfect time to partner with other university units and present this exhibition in celebration of the wonderful book collections and programs at the University of Iowa."

Regular hours at the Old Capitol Museum are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday and Saturday; and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Old Capitol is closed Mondays and national holidays. For more information visit

Along with "The Book in Time and Place," the UI Center for the Book will offer five other book art exhibits throughout Iowa City during the College Book Arts Association conference. Additional shows will include: "Printing on the Prairie: Iowa Literary Fine Presses, Historical Bookbinding Models and Exemplars, and Offset Printed Artist Books" at the UI Libraries; the "College Book Arts Association Members Show" at the Iowa Artisans Gallery, 207 E. Washington St.; and "BookEnviron: Iowa City" by Meda and Veda Rives at Arts Iowa City, 103 E. College St.

The College Book Arts Association conference, "Art, Fact, and Artifact: The Book in Time and Place," will bring over 200 professionals from book arts programs across the country to various locations on the UI campus. It will be the first conference organized by the newly formed association, which was founded in January 2008 to promote and support academic book arts education nationwide. For more information visit

Located within the University of Iowa Graduate College, the UI Center for the Book pursues a distinctive mission, integrating practice in the art of book production with the study of the book in society and offering curricula in book technologies and book history to graduate and undergraduate students, as well as to eastern Iowa community members. Students can earn a graduate certificate in book arts, book technologies and book studies. The certificate is offered as a stand-alone credential or as a complement to a graduate degree in a conventional department. For more information visit

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Julia Leonard, UI Center for the Book, 319-335-0447,; Kathrine Moermond, Pentacrest Museums, 319-335-0548,; George McCrory, University News Services, 319-384-0012,; Writer: Claire Lekwa