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Re: women/men in book arts



Barbara Harman wrote:
>All of the classes I teach there are 99% female students.

Yes, we should differentiate between students and practising artists, and
perhaps they are avocational now. But I was an avocational bookbinder when I
studied with Dan Knowlton at Brown. Somehow it has a way of taking over your
life (and perhaps the lives of those around you) :>)

It may be about girls and books. Boys read comics, girls read books. Also,
there is no money to be made in book art. Everyone is in it for love. If you
want to be a rich artist (using art for income) you may decide to be a
painter. There is less prejudice against women in book art, so there is more
opportunity, because the art establishment doesn't take it seriously.

One of the reasons it's not taken seriously is that there are a lot of
amateurs in it (perhaps all of us, since it's such a new field) and there is
no art history or critical litertature. There are a few books out about
artists' books, but nothing that covers book art as a whole. Everyone should
read Joan Lyons (http://vsw.org/press/artists/lyons_r.html), Johanna Drucker
(http://www.granarybooks.com/books/drucker2/drucker2.1.html) and Stefan
Klima (http://www.granarybooks.com/books/klima/klima4.html), but be aware of
their orientations and limitations.

In every field of art the academics create a history based on their
predilections. In book art there just aren't enough of them to add up to a
complete view of the field. Book art shows rarely get reviewed in the major
art publications, and one reason is that there are very few writers capable
of writing an intelligent and inbformed critical review. It's hard for
someone who writes about art to say whether a book art work is an original
contribution to the field if they don't know the antecedents.

The public view of book art (the art public, that is), favors books made by
famous artists. Works of book art made by conservators and restorers are
rarely noticed by anyone outside our field, though they may be the most
important and evolutionary work being done. You can read my article about
this: "Innovation from Tradition in the Book Arts"  American Craft,
October/November, 1993.  As it happens, most of the artists I wrote about
there are women.

        Richard
        http://www.minsky.com

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