[Table of Contents] [Search]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: "NY CBA"

In 1975 The Center for Book Arts included Papermaking on-site, but when Sue
Gosin moved the Dieu Donne Papermill to New York City the Center's
Papermaking classes were held there. When Robbin Ami Silverberg founded the
Dobbin Mill in Brooklyn, classes were held there as well, and continue to
be. Papermaking has always been considered an essential part of Book Art.
The Center uses its limited studio space (which costs a small fortune in
NYC) for those activities which are not offered elsewhere in NY, and is
involved in cooperative programs with other local organizations.

For several years The CBA offered BFA & MFA degrees in a joint program with
Pratt University, but discontinued that a few years ago for administrative
reasons. The Center's philosophy of being a progressive artist-based
community organization provides practical training in methods and materials,
as well as the enlightenment that comes from learning in a facility with a
strong exhibition program and a community of artists. Rather than provide
someone with credentials, the Center provides them with skills. If they use
the skills well, their work is their credential.

The Center for Book Arts fundamental concept is to provide workshops and
classes in an exhibition facility, or seen the other way, to provide
exhibitions to the public in the context of the working artists studio
environment. It's important that a member of the public, coming into the
exhibit, sees that the works of art are not made by aliens (as some museums
and galleries would suggest), but that they can become a book artist. It is
also important that the equipment, which not everybody has in their
apartment, be made available to artists so they can create. The mission is
to advance the art of the book, in all its forms, through exhibitions,
workshops, publications, etc. There is a mission statement on the Center's

When I started it in 1974 there was no place in the world you could go for
this. The closest thing was the Centro del Bel Libro in Ascona, Switzerland,
which at that time was primarily a Bookbinding center. By opening a Center
in downtown NYC, with artists' books exhibited to bookbinders, printers,
papermakers, typographers, marblers, and all the other book craftspeople;
and the works of high book craft exhibited to artists; a dialogue began.
(Please forgive the peculiar punctuation).

What happened is that artists began learning the crafts, artisans began to
use their craft techniques to express their internal metaphors, and
collaborations were generated between artists and artisans who had no
interest in doing the other part themselves, but wanted to produce
synergetic works.

In 1974 there was almost no support for or interest in this field. If you
told anyone you were a book artist (or even worse, a bookbinder) they would
get a glazed look in their eyes and walk away. The first years of The CBA
were challenging, and in the beginning it was just three apprentices and
myself that did everything. They were Robert Espinosa, Gloria Zuss,and Bob
Bretz. The apprentices did everything from hanging exhibitions, binding
books, and printing announcements to sanding the floors. Over time more
apprentices came, many students, a faculty was developed, and artists became
members. Grants were raised, exhibitions travelled, and workshops attracted
faculty from colleges across the country, many of whom began book arts
programs. By 1977 it had become a movement.

What I find so exciting is that now you can go to almost any region in the
USA and some places elsewhere, and find a facility and a support group.

By the way, I am now on a jag to change the name from Book Arts to Book Art.
I think _The Center for Book Art_ says more about what we are trying to do,
which is make Book Art. The plural sounds to me too much like book trades,
in the old sense of the word. The Book Art Movement needs to achieve proper
recognition as a creative form, with the attendant history, criticism, and

[Subject index] [Index for current month] [Table of Contents] [Search]