An artists’ book is an artwork that uses the form of the book as a source for inspiration. Artists use the book as an object to convey expressive content in addition to whatever is stated by the text of the book. Artists’ books rely on the intimacy and interactive quality of books, and the opportunity for viewers to experience art differently over time as pages are turned and perspectives change. The CSB/SJU artists’ book collection has works representing a continuum from fine press books, where the artistry chiefly amplifies the text, to bookworks, where the art form carries the message. It also contains items for the study of book-related arts, including exemplars of handmade and marbled paper, letterpress broadsides and posters, and representative binding styles. The Welle Book Arts Studio and the Book Arts minor both support, and are supported by, the collection development efforts of the library. Works from students in the minor are added to the libraries’ collection yearly and cataloged alongside other new acquisitions.
The Artists' Books Collection in our digital image library has records for many of the items held by the libraries, and a search of our catalog identifies more. Items may be on display, under review for catalog enhancement, or queued for photographs, so if you’d like to see a particular item please contact us.
Book Arts Between the Lines
In this series of videos, book artists talk about why they chose to work in the book arts, and how their work conveys meaning. This series has been made possible in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: NEH CARES.
Artists' Books and the Experience of Trauma
Book artist Marshall Weber discusses ways artists’ books can act as primary resources documenting the experience of trauma. As examples he refers to a compilation by Iraq Veterans Against the War, showing the experience of veterans, and his own work 11, which recreates the experience of New York City residents on September 11, 2001.
Why Artists' Books
Minneapolis book artist C.B. Sherlock discusses how an artists’ book uses tactile, visual, and text elements to extend the meaning of written works.
The Legacy of Book Arts
Book artist Mary Bruno, of Saint Joseph, Minnesota, reflects on her work as extending the heritage of previous artists, connected to the community where she works and the Benedictine values that have influenced and inspired her.
How do I access the collection?
The Artists' Books Collection is housed in the special collections area of Clemens Library. Inquiries about the collection may be directed to Bonnie Finn, Fine Arts Librarian.
Many of the items in the collection have been photographed and can be viewed online. Browse the Collection