How the Book Arts Program fits into the University and the community

From its inception, when it was modeled after and inspired by the Creative Writing Program, the Book arts Program has had significant collaborative relationships with other department and colleges at The University of Alabama. Perhaps its most significant connection has been with the College of Arts & Sciences Creative Writing Program. For the past seventeen years Book Arts students have created broadsides and other ephemera, now numbering in the hundreds, to celebrate each and every reading held as part of the Creative Writing Program’s Bankhead Visiting Writers Series. One hundred handmade objects featuring a poem or part of a story by the writer, and accompanied by art of typographical invention, have been handed out at each reading by the maker. It is a long and honorable tradition. Book Arts faculty are frequent members of MFA in Creative Writing thesis committees.

Our relations with the art department, especially printmaking and photography, have been strong. Most book arts students take the printmaking classes, with their natural connection to the book, and Sarah Marshall, UA printmaking faculty member, has taken most of the bookbinding classes and brings elements of that work into her classes.

The Book Arts Program has long worked with University Libraries. At any given time there will be one or two exhibitions generated by the Book Arts Program on display in the Libraries various venues. We have had up to three concurrent exhibitions in UA’s Libraries. Our connection with the Hoole Special Collections, home of our Book Arts Collection is particularly strong. Hoole has featured a number of Book Arts Creative Project Thesis exhibitions and been the host to numerous Book Arts lectures and receptions.

Faculty member Anna Embree is in long-term collaboration with colleagues in Human and Environmental Sciences on research in textile strength and durability.

Faculty member Steve Miller recently served as President of the University’s Faculty Senate, representing nearly 1,000 faculty members, and from the perspective of a book artist. Miller is a frequent lecturer in the Honors Program and New College, where he speaks to undergraduate students about the joys of making books by hand.

This year 3rd year Books Arts graduate student Amy Pirkle is teaching undergraduate classes in Creativity, and Book Arts, in New College.

The Book Arts Program views the University at large as a tremendous resource for advancing knowledge about the book, and creating rich opportunities for students in our program.

In addition to working within the University, our faculty and students are engaged in working with young writers and artists from elementary through high school, locally and state-wide. We host short workshops for those students several times annually with workshops taught by both faculty and students in the Book Arts Program. In addition, the Book Arts Program participates in the annual Kentuck Festival of the Arts, held each October in West Alabama, where we work with hundreds of children on a small proof press printing old cuts, as well as demonstrate various bookbinding techniques and successfully sell student-made book objects