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UW-Madison Libraries’ Kohler Art Library Welcomes Distinguished Book Artist Maureen Cummins for first annual Bernstein Book Arts Lecture

March 4, 2015
Maureen Cummins
Maureen Cummins

Distinguished book artist Maureen Cummins will be welcomed to campus as the University of Wisconsin-Madison Libraries’ Kohler Art Library hosts the first annual Bernstein Book Arts Lecture, March 19, 2015. The public lecture Artist as Archivist: The Work of Maureen Cummins will be at 11:30 a.m. in room 126 Memorial Library.

A world-renowned artist, Cummins has produced over 30 limited edition works tackling social justice issues. The publications showcase her ability to mine historic materials to expose hidden meanings, and provide poignant entry into moments in history that are often overlooked.

“It’s a startling and awe-inspiring experience to be handling materials that our ancestors, sometimes centuries ago, created,” Cummins explains. “It gives you a shocking perspective. You truly get a rich and nuanced understanding of human history.”

Crazy Quilt, 1998

Cummins, a native New Yorker, uses her work to address difficult social issues like women’s rights, race relations, human oppression and torture, poverty, identity, and mental illness. She utilizes original photographs, business documents, slave narratives, hospital records, turn-of-the-century gay love letters, and other historical archival material to explore new and disturbing meanings in and around these issues. Whether she’s researching the Salem Witch Trials, or disasters like the Triangle Factory Fire, Cummins looks for the historic pieces tossed aside, or intentionally buried, to bring to light the deeper accounts of these events.

“The subject matter I research, while often dark, is not esoteric,” Cummins notes. “There’s something interesting about the process of looking at dark subjects, or disasters, that others have researched before. I’m looking for a new angle that allows me to see something that nobody else has seen. I’m looking for the accounts that aren’t the official history, but rather created by people in an unselfconscious way, that allow you to see the detailed accounts of why or how something happened.”

During her visit to campus, Cummins will teach a printing workshop for students in the Department of Art on the topic of creating work using found and historical ephemera on March 18.

In conjunction with the lecture and workshop events, the Kohler Art Library will showcase its collection of artists’ books by Maureen Cummins: Social Conscience: The Work of Maureen Cummins, which runs from March 16 – June 30, 2015.

Stocks and Bonds, 2000

Cummins has received numerous grants, including the prestigious Pollock-Krasner award, and has been an artist-in-residence in major research archives, including Duke University and the American Antiquarian Society.

The lecture series is funded by the Leonora G. Bernstein Artists’ Book Endowment. Sponsored by Kohler Art Library, UW-Madison.

The lecture is free and open to the public.

For more information, please contact the Kohler Art Library at 608-263-2256 or lyn.korenic@wisc.edu