“I open my eyes and see myself under a tree laden with fruit that I cannot name.”

On view at the Center for Book Arts Monday through Saturday, 11am till 5pm, January 17 through March 28, 2020.

Draw / Cut / Rotate 17, Hadieh Shafie (2019)

Storytelling is a central component of societal development across centuries and cultures. Whether used as a tool to recall history, preserve identity, or to transmit morals, it is a means for understanding and sharing human experiences. Oral traditions and the written word are perhaps the most obvious modes of communication associated with storytelling, however visual artists have equally engaged with it throughout history, and continue to do so today.
Curated by Lila Nazemian, “I open my eyes and see myself under a tree laden with fruit that I cannot name” is an exhibition entitled after a line in Sinan Antoon’s latest novel, The Book of Collateral Damage, featured alongside Hadieh Shafie and Zarina, whose works are deeply embedded within narrative mediums. Through the use of paper, printing methods and orality, each artist produces works that function as allegories for sharing stories of home and of their lived experiences.
During the course of the exhibition, public programs such as artist talks between Shafie, Antoon and Nazemian will take place, in addition to poetry recitations accompanied by live music from Iran, Iraq and South Asia.

Opening Reception: Jan 16, 6:30pm
Artist Talk with Hadieh Shafie and Sinan Antoon: Jan 30, 6:30pm
Master Class with Hadieh Shafie: Feb 1 & 2, 11-5pm
Live Music Performance: March 6, 6:30pm

Warren Lehrer: Books, Animation, Performance, Collaboration

On view at the Center for Book Arts Foyer Gallery: January 17 through March 28, 2020.

Warren Lehrer: Books, Animation, Performance, Collaboration explores Warren Lehrer’s approach to visualizing poetry and prose in multi-branched projects through books, typography, animation, performance, and collaboration. The centerpiece is Lehrer’s newest book/project, Five Oceans in a Teaspoon, a collaboration with poet/investigative journalist Dennis J Bernstein (Paper Crown Press, 2019). In addition to copies of the Five Oceans in a Teaspoon book, the exhibit includes 27 prints of individual poems and a reel of a dozen animations. The exhibit also features some of Lehrer’s previous books and animations/films/performances that branch from them, including: Globalization: Preventing the Sameness of the World andclips from 1001 Voices: Symphony for a New America—offshoots of Crossing the BLVD (W.W. Norton) co-authored with Judith Sloan; and animations and films used in Lehrer’s performances of his illuminated novel A LIFE IN BOOKS: The Rise and Fall of Bleu Mobley (Goff Books). Lehrer and Bernstein’s first book/play FRENCH FRIES (1984, VSW), and other solo and collaborative bookworks provide further context.

Opening Reception: Jan 16, 6:30pm
Artist Presentation: March 26, 6:30pm

Warren Lehrer is a writer, designer and book artist known as a “pioneer of visual literature and design authorship.” His books and multimedia projects capture the shape of thought and reunite oral and pictorial traditions of storytelling in books, animations and performance. Awards include: The Brendan Gill Prize, IPPY Outstanding Book of the Year Award, Innovative Use of Archives Award, International Book Award for Best New Fiction, three AIGA Book Awards, Media That Matters Award, grants and fellowships from NEA, NYSCA, NYFA, QCA, Rockefeller, Ford, Greenwall Foundations. He is a 2016 Honoree of the Center for Book Arts and a 2019 Ladislv Sutnar Prize laureate. His work is in many collections including MoMA, Getty Museum, Georges Pompidou Centre, Tate Gallery. A frequent lecturer and performer, Lehrer is the Leff Distinguished Professor at SUNY Purchase, a founding faculty member of SVA’s Designer As Author MFA program, and co-founder of EarSay, a non-profit arts organization in Queens, NY.


The Private Life of Rag Dolls

On view at the Center for Book Arts Print Shop Gallery: January 17 through March 28, 2020.

Faride Mereb is a Venezuelan artist, designer, researcher, and founder of publishing house Letra Muerta. Established in 2014, Letra Muerta focuses on archival books, Latin American literature and vindicating the value of the printed book. With The Private Life of Rag Dolls, she is presenting the publisher’s 8th publication. 

The Private life of Rag Dolls is based on the book, Once Upon a Rag Doll, by Aquiles Nazoa (1920-1976), one of Venezuela’s most prominent writers, humorists, and journalists. The exhibition will feature artist Faride Mereb’s research findings and photographs made during a visit to the author’s family in Caracas, as well as photographs of the original dolls and reinterpretations of the original characters. A new English version will be featured, which uses new fonts, format, and photographs, printed and produced by Javier Aizpurua, the same master printer who worked on the first edition of the book. 

“At that time, the capital of Venezuela was the place where you could find the stagnation of the State, the European ways of the Belle Epoque and some features of the American culture recently brought in by the exploitation of oil.” The time elapsed between the first publication of this book and the present reissue shows the consequences of the policies undertaken that ruined a rich State, which is vividly represented by these dolls, their inner rags, and the Venezuelan population.

Faride Mereb es una artista, venezolana, diseñadora, investigadora, y fundadora de Ediciones Letra Muerta. Iniciando en 2014, Letra Muerta se enfoca en libros de archivo, literatura Latino Americana y la reivindicación del valor del libro impreso. Vida privada de las muñecas de trapo es el octavo título presentado bajo el sello editorial. 

Este libro fue publicado por primera vez en 1975 por Aquiles Nazoa (1920-1976), autor, humorista y periodista venezolano muy prominente, cuyo trabajo cruza las fronteras entre los diferentes géneros literarios. Vida privada de las muñecas de trapo es un híbrido entre historias cortas e imágenes de las muñecas que fueron hechas por Ariadna, una mujer de El Guarataro, un vecindario humilde donde vivía el autor y su familia. Estas imágenes se intercalan con fotos de archivo tomadas por Godofredo Romero en aquella época. Esta nueva edición, presenta una selección minuciosa de fotos digitalizadas al visitar la casa del autor en Caracas, que además de incluir los personajes originales, también plantea nuevas interpretaciones. El libro ha sido traducido al inglés, una edición revisada que usa nuevas fuentes, formato y fotos, pero con la constante de la producción e impresión a cargo de Javier Aizpurua, el mismo maestro impresor que llevó a cabo el proyecto en los años 70.

“En ese tiempo, la capital venezolana era un lugar que buscaba combinar el sopor del latifundio, los modos parisinos de la Belle Époque y los trazos todavía incipientes de la cultura norteamericana introducida por la explotación petrolera”. El inciso entre la primera edición y esta, evidencia las consecuencias del deterioro de un país llevado a las ruinas, siendo representado en las mismas muñecas, sus vestidos, y sobre todo en la población venezolana. 

Opening Reception: Jan 16, 6:30pm
Story Time & Fun: A Party for Kids!: Feb 6, 12pm
The Production of The Private Life of Rag Dolls: Feb 20, 6:30pm

Remembering Walter Hamady: Selections from The Perishable Press

On view in the Bindery Studio Gallery Monday through Saturday, 11am till 5pm, January 16 through March 28, 2020.

Born in 1940 in Flint, Michigan, Walter Hamady was a book artist, educator, publisher, and poet known for his tactile and witty approach to bookmaking and collage. As the founder of the influential Perishable Press Limited and professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Hamady was a leader in the field for decades. He acquired a love for printed materials early in his childhood, citing his mother’s extensive book and magazine collection as an original inspiration. He received his BFA from Wayne State University (1964) and his MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art (1966). In 1964, while working towards his MFA, Hamady launched the Perishable Press. Through the press, he published 131 volumes, including works of his own and those of many contemporaries. He joined the faculty at the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 1966, and he became an influential voice in the art department until his retirement in 1996.Hamady received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts for his work at Perishable Press (1976, 1978, and 1980) and a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fund in 1969. His work has been collected by institutions including the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the New York Public Library.

Remembering Walter Hamady: Selections from the Perishable Press celebrates the life and career of Walter Hamady. As a pioneer of bookbinding, printmaking and collage, Hamady created the Perishable Press as a space for experimentation and innovation in the field of book arts. By collaborating with other poets, writers and artists, Hamady brought others into the realm of bookmaking, expanding the reach of the medium. In this exhibition, we present a survey of his work over the span of four decades and numerous collaborations, with poets like Robert Creeley, Rosmarie Waldrop, George Oppen, and others.

Opening Reception: Jan 16, 6:30pm
Experimental Collage Masterclass with Book Artist-in-Residence, Linda Zeb Hang: Feb 22, 12pm
Lecture on Walter Hamady with Ruth Lingen: March 12, 6:30pm

Walt Whitman’s Words: Inspiring Artists Today

On view at the Center for Book Arts Monday through Saturday, 11am till 5pm, October 3 through December 14, 2019.

Portraits of Walt Whitman by Barbara Henry

2019 is the 200th birthday year of Walt Whitman (1819-1892), who is known today as one of the most influential poets of the nineteenth century. In addition to his work as a poet, Whitman is also remembered as a book designer and printer, essayist and journalist. Calling himself “the Bard of Democracy”, Whitman broke the mold in his prolific writings – calling for equality, inclusivity and a more humanist world for all to live in.

Installation view of Walt Whitman’s Words: Inspiring Artists Today at the Center for Book Arts through December 14, 2019. ©Center for Book Arts 2019

The Center for Book Arts is marking this bi-centennial by looking at how Whitman’s writings have influenced contemporary artists working in the book arts. The exhibition follows several themes Whitman focused on in his writings, providing the connective tissue that links these works together. Geography, history, identity and immigration are a few themes that emerge from the works of art on view. Whitman’s fascination with Ancient Egypt, photography as a branding tool, and his notion of the world as he imagined it are all evident in the art on view. These diverse objects range from books, drawings, photographs, sketches, broadsides and a scroll.

Installation view of Walt Whitman’s Words: Inspiring Artists Today at the Center for Book Arts through December 14, 2019. ©Center for Book Arts 2019

Artists Included: Isabel Baraona, Vanessa Cruz, Sasha Chavchavadze, Allen Crawford, Marianne Dages, Devon Damonte, Brian Dettmer, Teresa Drilling, Daphne Fitzpatrick, Evelyn Eller, Sophie Koko Gate, Anne Gilman, Donald Glaister, Sam Gordon, Sheila Goloborotko, Joan C. Gratz, Barbara Henry, Bridget Henry, Meg Hitchcock, Timothy Hull and Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Sam Ita, Saskia Jetten, Stefan Killen, Richard Kostelanetz, Kathy Kuehn, Karen Kunc, Lisa LaBracio, Sophia Le Fraga, Angela Lorenz, Russell Maret, Barry McCallion, Deanna Morse, Mark McMurray, Susan Newmark, Ilse Schreiber-Noll, Leisa ReFalo, Brian Selznick, Clarissa Sligh, Peter Spagnuolo, Elisabeth Tonnard, Walt Whitman, Rutherford Witthus, Marilyn Zornado

Join us for one of these related events:
+ Oct 24Roundtable Discussion with Susan Newmark, Anne Gilman, Sasha Chavchavadze, and curator Deirdre Lawrence @ 6:30pm
+ Nov 4Free Letterpress Workshop with instructor Roni Gross @ 6:30pm
+ Dec 12Photography Discussion with Marianne Dages, Daphne Fitzpatrick, Stefan Killen, and curator Deirdre Lawrence @ 6:30pm

The Traveling Artist: Journals Lydia Rubio

Wooden box with the word Journey stenciled on it
Miami Geneva (external view of box) by Lydia Rubio, 2000

The Center for Book Arts presents The Traveling Artist: Journals by Lydia Rubio.

This exhibition features artistic documentation of artist Lydia Rubio’s travel narratives across linguistic and geographic landscapes. The works record the artist’s experiences across a variation of calligraphic, drawing and poetic compositions. This exhibition includes multiple series of work including The Genius Loci Book, The Journal of a Trip to the Island, and Travel Journals. Travel Journals are a result of an early appreciation for words and calligraphy.

Her first journal, on view in this exhibition, was about the artist’s return to her homeland of Cuba after nearly 4 decades. Join us to hear Lydia Rubio talk about her life and work on December 5, 2019 at the Center for Book Arts. The exhibition opens on Thursday, October 3 and runs through December 14, 2019.

Miami Geneva, Terre Rouge (one of fourteen drawings) by Lydia Rubio, 2000

Clarissa Sligh: Witnessing Through Artist’s Books

page spread from Reading Dick and Jane with Me by Clarissa Sligh
Reading Dick and Jane With Me by Clarissa Sligh, published by Visual Studies Workshop in 1989.

The Center for Book arts is pleased to present the solo project Witnessing Through Artist’s Books by Clarissa Sligh.

Clarissa Sligh engages with the book format to document, deconstruct and redress the structural oppression witnessed throughout her lifetime. Sourcing from U.S. history and her lived experiences growing up in the Jim Crow South, Sligh’s artist’s books utilize text and photography to explore and interrogate the human condition under our normative societal roles and structures. She collages poetry and prose, photographs and drawings, journal excerpts and visual textures to evoke simultaneous intimacy as both spectator and spectacle.

This exhibition will be on view at 28 w 27 street, NYC from October 3 through December 14, 2019. Sligh will be presenting an artist’s talk at the Center on November 7 at 6:30pm. Please RSVP as space for this lecture is filling up.

My hands holding The White Man’s Bible by Clarissa Sligh, 2016.

Clarissa Sligh is a visual and conceptual artist, lecturer, and essayist based in Asheville, North Carolina. For over 40 years, Sligh has used photography and text with other media to explore cultural, personal and political concepts of memory, history, and place: themes that have roots in her own experiences. When she was 15 years old she became the lead plaintiff in the 1955 school desegregation case in Virginia (Clarissa Thompson et. al. vs. Arlington County School Board). Recent projects based on “transforming hate” (2008–present) include installations and artist books. Sligh has received awards including an International Center of Photography Annual Infinity Award, Anonymous Was a Woman (2001), and National Endowment for the Arts (1988). She has been a New York Foundation Fellow in Artists’ Books (2005) and in Photography (2000 and 1988). Sligh’s works are in public collections including The Museum of Modern Art, New York, the George Eastman House, Rochester, NY, and The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

Poetry is not a Luxury


July 19 through September 20, 2019

Homeland Insecurity, Zeina Barakeh 2019

Poetry Is Not a Luxury considers how book arts have contributed to the recording of oppositional subjectivities in the U.S. The exhibition is titled after Audre Lorde’s 1977 essay on the intersections of creativity and activism that were not only essential to her own work but to a diverse group of feminist thinkers at the time. Recognizing that both creative work and activism are driven by subjectivity, Lorde argues that for women poetry is not a luxury but a vital necessity, as it provides a framework through which survival and the desire for change can be articulated, conceptualized, and transformed into meaningful action.

Poetry is Not a Luxury features artists who approach book arts in a similar way, namely as experimental media that foreground subjectivity and lend to intimate aesthetic experiences with the aim of drawing attention to sociopolitical issues. Since the mid twentieth century, artist books, broadsides, mail art, and zines have been essential to artists seeking to bring greater awareness to ongoing marginalization and oppression (e.g. incarceration, gentrification, immigration, and war), arguably due to the widely recognizable and accessible nature of these art forms.

Featured artists:
Aurora De Armendi with Adriana Mendez Rodenas; Zeina Barakeh; Janine Biunno; Ana Paula Cordeiro; Joyce Dallal; Nancy Genn; Gelare Khoshgozaran; Brenda Louie; Nancy Morejon with Ronaldo Estevez Jordan and Marciel Ruiz; Katherine Ng; Miné Okubo; Martha Rosler; Zeinab Saab; Jacqueline Reem Salloum; Patricia Sarrafian Ward; Jana Sim; Sable Elyse Smith; Patricia Tavenner; Christine Wong Yap; and Helen Zughaib.

Opening Reception: July 18, 2019, 6:30pm
Artist & Curator Talk: August 22, 2019 
Book Launch + Reading with Helen Zughaib: September 4, 2019
Poetry Reading with Mizna: September 5, 2019

Support for the Center for Book Arts’ Visual Arts Program is provided, in part, by the New York State Council on the Arts, with the support of Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

The Reverse of Landscape: Catalina De La Cruz

JULY 19 – SEPTEMBER 21, 2019

Installation view of The Reverse of Landscape: Catalina De la Cruz on view at the Center for Book arts July 19 through September 21, 2019.

Through a series of photographic works identified as a “Photochemical Book”, Catalina De La Cruz explores the desert of Chile and Peru as spaces with imposed limitations, in which natural and manmade structures struggle to survive. Through chromatic, graphic, architectural, spatial, and referential inquiries on the landscapes, the artist books–which have been produced using 19th century photochemical printing–are used to interrogate the visual, material, and conceptual narratives within the photographs, to create new visual contemporary poetics.

“I have developed my work from the photographic, specializing in chemical photography from the 19th century, digital photography, its displacement to large-scale videographic support and creating the photochemical book format as sequential work. From these different devices, I explore the discursivity of photography as an image of the real working in an expanded field, addressing issues about the territory and its intervention – occupation. The notion of immersiveness in the work has been the axis, through the scale and the story.”

“He desarrollado mi obra desde lo fotográfico, especializándome en fotografía química del s.XIX, fotografía digital, su desplazamiento al soporte videográfico de gran escala y creando el formato de libro fotoquímico como obra secuencial. Desde estos diferentes dispositivos, exploro la discursividad de la fotografía en tanto imagen de lo real trabajando en un campo expandido, abordando problemáticas sobre el territorio y su intervención – ocupación. La noción de inmersividad en la obra ha sido el eje, por medio de la escala y el relato.”

Artist Talk with Catalina De la Cruz, September 12, 6:30 pm

Catalina De la Cruz (Santiago de Chile, 1979). Master in Visual Arts.

She has done solo, two person and collective exhibitions in Chile, in the National Museum of Fine Arts, Contemporary Art Museum, Espora and Moro Gallery, Pinacoteca de Concepción and Palacio de La Moneda Cultural Center, among others. In addition to exhibitions, presentations, and workshops in Spain, Peru, Brazil, and the United States. Her works are in private collections in Chile, France, and the United States, where there are also two artist’s photochemical books, in the New York Public Library. She has been a beneficiary of the National Art Fund and has collaborated with the Centro de La Imagen in Lima, Peru and the International Photography Festival of Valparaíso, Chile.

For 13 years she has been managing her own photochemical research space in Santiago, Chile, where work production workshops are taught in photochemical processes from the nineteenth century, from a contemporary approach. TEF.


In 2016 she created the project and workshop: “Photochemical Book”, an unpublished editorial format based on precursory photography techniques.

Catalina De la Cruz (Santiago de Chile, 1979). Magíster en Artes Visuales.

Ha realizado exposiciones individuales, bipersonales y colectivas en Chile, en el Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Galería Espora y Moro, Pinacoteca de Concepción y Centro cultural Palacio la Moneda, entre otros. Además de exhibiciones, presentaciones y talleres en España, Perú, Brasil y Estados Unidos. Sus obras se encuentran en colecciones privadas en Chile, Francia y Estados Unidos, donde además se encuentran dos libros fotoquímicos de artista, en la New York Public Library. Ha sido becaria por el Fondo Nacional de Arte, y ha colaborado con el Centro de La Imagen en Lima, Perú y el Festival Internacional de Fotografía de Valparaíso, Chile.

Desde hace 13 años dirige su propio espacio de investigación fotoquímica en Santiago, Chile, donde se imparten talleres de producción de obra en procesos fotoquímicos del S.XIX, desde un enfoque contemporáneo. TEF. (www.talleremulsionesfotograficas.cl).

El 2016 crea el proyecto y Taller Libro Fotoquímico, formato editorial inédito a partir de técnicas precursoras de la Fotografía.

Translation by Scott Ridley


JULY 19 – SEPTEMBER 21, 2019

Installation view of Sanctuary at the Center for Book Arts in the Printshop Gallery July 19 through September 21, 2019

Since 1974, the Center for Book Arts has been committed to artistic expression and exploration of the structural and conceptual possibilities of the Book. This year we are reaffirming our commitment to provide opportunities for all to further their creative indulgence—as a site to share narratives; generate new discourses and ideas; and build creative communities bound by collaboration and respect.

The theme of this exhibition is centered in the artistic exploration of Sanctuary; how can the book arts be used as a tool to create and facilitate notions of inclusion and safety? How can the book be used to imagine new possibilities for Sanctuary? Artists delve into the conceptuality and physicality of safe space creation, in conjunction with the theoretical and applied practices of bookmaking.

Artists Talk will be September 19, at 6:30 pm