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Annual exhibition spotlighting ‘Artists’ Books by Women’

Colette Fu’s “Kaifuna” (2017), pop-up book, 25 x 17 in.  Courtesy of Colette Fu.

Katherine Ng’s “Fortune Ate Me” (1992)  Courtesy of Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, Cynthia Sears Collection.

Randolph’s 112th Annual Exhibition of Contemporary Art will showcase the work of 33 women artists from across the United States. 

Back to Front: Artists’ Books by Women, which opens with a reception from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 22, presents expansive concepts of the book as art in an array of formats and materials, with content and themes expressing beauty, outrage, hope, loss, and humor. 

“At the Maier, we aim to tell as complete a story of American art as we can, and artists’ books deserve a spotlight,” said Martha Kjeseth Johnson, director of the Maier. “Back to Front is also inspired by current unsettling trends that seem to vilify books in general. In conjunction with the exhibition, we anticipate offering a range of engagements for our visitors to champion the book and academic freedoms.”

Martha Chiplis, a creator and collector of artists’ books, curated the exhibition in collaboration with artist Lyall Harris and Johnson.

Chiplis holds an MFA from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She began teaching at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2008 and co-authored For the Love of Letterpress: A Printing Handbook for Instructors and Students

“The work is about navigating the world through the lens of our various identities (and sometimes trying to grapple with identity),” Harris says, “and finding a voice for those concerns in this medium, which is inherently understated in a sense but also inherently powerful for the very reason of its form—the book, a defining cultural object so deeply rooted in our shared experience.”  

Linda Samson-Talleur and Cathy Ledeker (vignettes and calligraphy), “The Phoenix” (2004). Courtesy of the artists.

In conjunction with the exhibit, Lipscomb Library is hosting a Book Making Bonanza from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Oct. 4.  

Participants will assemble one-page art books from the Quarantine Public Library (QPL) project that will be on display during the exhibition. QPL is a repository of one-page books made by artists and published online for anyone to freely download, print and assemble—to keep or give away. The QPL titles transform from a printed piece of paper into a book through folding.

Chiplis chose 100 titles by women in the QPL, which will be at the Bonanza event. 

After the opening, the public will be invited to add to the installation by leaving their own books in the format of the QPL one-page books

The annual exhibition will also be the subject of the 32nd Annual Helen Clark Berlind Symposium on Nov. 4. The event includes artist talks by Harris and artist Nia Easley, as well as a panel discussion with both artists, Chiplis, and moderator Lynora Williams. 

Additionally, Harris will conduct a workshop about book art at the Maier on Nov. 11.  

“Since the College’s founding, custodians and nurturers of our collection have been women,” Johnson said. “Progressive, independent, visionary women—and our collection reflects that.”

For more information, visit

The 112th Annual Exhibition, “Back to Front: Artists’ Books by Women,” was made possible by the generous support of Mary Gray Shockey, ’69.

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