Exhibition and Reception at Denison Library

Posted: September 18, 2012

Fine & Dirty: Contemporary Letterpress Art

August 31-October 19, 2012
Ella Strong Denison Library

Today, the fine press book is thriving. This kind of artist’s book, whose character derives from the properties and pleasures of craft, has emerged as the leading edge in a field that is attracting working artists and students in increasing numbers. Yet just twenty-five years ago letterpress printing was dismissed as irrelevant. It is time to mark this medium’s resurgence and consider its future arc.

The practice of letterpress printing incorporates craft standards and the book’s tactile character, along with art world strategies, materials and content. The resulting work can continue traditions in literary and typographical primacy, or ideas about craft can be filtered through interests in content, materials and structure. Fine & Dirty: Contemporary Letterpress Art assembles work by nearly forty established and emerging artists that reflects this diversity, which together comprise the best in letterpress books today.

Work includes books that explore literary content traditionally associated with letterpress, as well as books created in response to social or political concerns; books directed by conceptual programs or sign systems; and books created through strategies such as chance and improvisation. Finally, although every letterpress book by definition contributes to a tactile and sensual art experience, the exhibition includes works that display a strong material or sculptural presence. The exhibition also investigates wider cultural influences evidenced in current letterpress work.

This exhibition was organized for the Minnesota Center for Book Arts, Minneapolis by its Director Jeff Rathermel and Book Arts scholar Betty Bright in 2011. It subsequently traveled to the Center for Book Arts, New York City. The exhibition comes to Scripps courtesy of the Minnesota Center for Book Arts at the suggestion of Scripps professor, Kitty Maryatt. The exhibition was arranged and installed at Scripps by Judy Harvey Sahak, Director of the Ella Strong Denison Library.

An illustrated, full color catalog of the exhibition written by Betty Bright is available here at the Denison Library. It costs $15, cash or check. Please ask at the Main Desk.

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