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Annual Berlind Symposium to spotlight artists books by women

Randolph College’s 32nd Annual Helen Clark Berlind Symposium will be held on Saturday, Nov. 4, with a daylong program inspired by Back to Front: Artists’ Books by Women, currently on display at the Maier Museum of Art at Randolph College.

The symposium will include artist talks by Lyall Harris and Nia Easley, who will chronologically describe their path as artists and what led them to artists books, as well as a panel discussion with Harris, Easley, guest curator Martha Chiplis, and moderator Lynora Williams.

Easley, a lecturer at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, practices an art informed by methods of design production. Her work engages the absurdity, violence, and beauty of contemporary American life, focusing on our shared histories and how they have shaped the current landscape.

She has two books in the exhibition: A Dozen Deaths (2015), a counternarrative in the form of 12 stories about Trayvon Martin’s murder, and The Last Green Book (2022), which reveals the precariousness of travel in 1962 Chicago for African-Americans.

Harris—who teaches book art and creative writing workshops and classes, most recently at James Madison University, the University of Virginia, and the Virginia Center for the Book—has three works in the exhibition.

Grace (2023) is an artists’ book presented in three different states. Harris’ two additional pieces are collaborations with Patricia Silva. Unapologetic Initiative is a mixed media interactive installation and Without Fault turns questions of conventional beauty upside-down, pointing out the humor and tragedy in vintage beauty guides, with echoes of today’s impossible social media standard of beauty.

Harris holds a BA in art history from Northwestern University and an MFA in book art and creative writing from Mills College; she was the inaugural graduate in the nation’s first MFA of this kind.

Chiplis, who curated Back to Front: Artists’ Books by Women, holds an MFA from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She worked for Sherwin Beach Press as a letterpress printer and designer for 16 years, and currently teaches at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She co-authored For the Love of Letterpress: a Printing Handbook for Instructors and Students, now in its second edition.

Williams, former director of the National Museum of Women in the Arts’ Betty Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center, will moderate the panel. She also curated Holding Ground: Artists’ Books for the National Museum of Women in the Arts, opening in conjunction with its grand re-opening following a two-year renovation. Holding Ground also opened the same weekend as Back to Front.

The Berlind Symposium runs from 1 to 4 p.m. and is free and open to the public. For more information, visit

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