Interrogating Form and Culture: Activism, Equality in the Artists’ Book

“La Extraordinaria Historia de Julia Pastrana,” Laura Anderson, 2015.

This exhibit brings together twelve artists’ books that confront issues of social justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion within our globalized world. Through a variety of approaches and forms, the activist artists tackle the challenges surrounding women’s mental health, immigration and displacement, marriage equality, ethnic and gender identity, children’s welfare, marginalized communities, the effects of colonialization, and the rise of xenophobia and ultra-nationalism.

As art objects, these artists’ books engage our senses through structure, medium, color, and text. They interrogate form and culture as they seek a more just society. Readers hear directly or indirectly from diverse voices: African-American, Latinx, LGBTQ, immigrant and refugee, women and children at risk, and the visually challenged. These voices, representing different cultures and views, compel our attention, challenge us to listen to their message, and call on us to be more civically engaged. They ask us to examine our own biases and reflect on the notion of equality.

This exhibit was researched and installed by the twelve students enrolled in the LIS 855: Art Librarianship during spring semester 2020. Each student selected and researched one artists’ book from the Kohler Art Library and wrote a caption label. The students worked collaboratively to install the exhibition. The curators are: Kristina Baybayan, Joan Becker, William Kressin, Caitlin Lenox, Matthew Noojin, Lauren Scanlon, Jordon Sprunger, Gilbert Taylor, Casandra Thayer-Styes, Ping Xia, Yingxue Yang, and Wenqing Zhou.

February 19, 2020 – April 12, 2020