It was a little daunting to jury such a large exhibition. Early on, there were some difficulties with the online entry system and I am very grateful that Amy LeePard and Eric Alstrom were willing to spend the hours needed to resort and prepare the entries for the jurying process.
Viewing the description and images for each entry was difficult but with this online system I could return and view the work as many times as was necessary. This allowed me to compare entries when narrowing the field. Each of us on the jury was also able to add comments to entries and to encourage the other jurors to look at a piece again. I would also like to thank my fellow jurors, Emily and Rutherford, for making this large task go so pleasantly and smoothly.
The ideal situation would have been to see and handle each entry instead of using the digital images and written descriptions. But seeing the entries reminded me of the importance of learning to photograph your work well and the importance of writing descriptions that help your work attract greater interest. As more digital opportunities are available, having these skills in presenting our work will keep the field of book arts relevant.
I am pleased with the range of work we selected and level of craftsmanship on display, and feel we have chosen a good mix of the various areas of book arts.
The horizon is a relationship of perspective, rather than a fixed place. Apparent only through the lens of distance, it is a contemplative focus, a beacon for imagination, a beckoning. The mountain climber is spurred on by its jagged heaves and panoramic sighs. For sailors on a calm sea, the horizon is static suspense. The astronaut in space (and the dreamer on the ground) watches earth-bound notions of the horizon disappear, and is confronted instead with its metaphor: the line between the known and mystery, the creeping boundary between the tried and the untested. As vessel, as form, and as practice, the book is in the business of pushing boundaries. Thus this thematic call yielded an impressive array of fine and design bindings; broadsides; and one-of-a-kind, multiple, fine press, sculptural, and calligraphic artists’ books.
The selected works engage diversely with this provocative concept. Some respond to visual and physical qualities of a horizon: a landscape’s silhouette traces the peaks and valleys of an accordion; a book bound in a circle recalls the rim of the earth and the infinity of knowledge. In others, classic and original texts are vivified by innovative design and skillful craft. Several works pay tribute to the inventiveness of colleagues and forebears who expanded the horizons of book making.
Dick Higgins writes, “The complex of what one knows and what one does not know and what one knows without consciously considering it, that horizon is always in motion. And the text that is a work of art brings its horizon to us.” The works in this exhibition bring their horizons—from both inner and outer worlds—to us; they prod and shape and provide a glimpse beyond our existent points of view.
The sensory pleasures associated with paper, leather, and ink are not usually accessible to the viewer of a book arts exhibition. The heft of a book, the sound of pages turning, the feel of paper under the fingers, and the smell of ink and leather are generally missing in an exhibition gallery. As jurors in a book arts show, we were removed even further from the object: each unnamed artist provided two images of their fine printing, artist’s book, design binding, broadside, or calligraphy. From these images, we were asked to choose 49 pieces from the 124 submissions by members of the Guild of Book Workers.
Based on whatever criteria they chose to employ, each of the jurors selected an initial group of items that they felt should be included in the Horizon exhibit. For me, the overall visual impression is always the most persuasive. Then I ask myself: Is the art and craft of the work immediately apparent? Is the theme of the show evident in the piece or in the description of the work? Do I desire to spend more time with the piece? After this initial round, the jurors compared their top choices to determine which works were deemed immediately acceptable for the show. This compilation accounted for about half of the final selection. From that point onwards, each of the jurors became advocates for the pieces they felt should be included. The juror’s special area of interest, whether it was artists’ books, fine bindings, printing, or calligraphy, provided a foundation from which they could evaluate and promote individual works. The advocacy process occurred over a three week period before the final selections were made. While the jurors lived with these images for those intense weeks, only the curators at the various venues will have the pleasure of actually touching while seeing the works that we selected.
The Guild of Book Workers was founded in 1906 "... to establish and maintain a feeling of kinship and mutual interest among workers in the several hand book crafts." When the Guild no longer required that potential members submit work for examination before being allowed to join, juried exhibitions were instituted to ensure a high level of craftsmanship to its exhibits. We hope with these selections for the Horizon exhibition that our members will find works of interest and a feeling of kinship with other book workers.