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, Barbara Tetenbaum, 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, 12:00 am – September 21, 11:59 pm
The Center for Book Arts, 28 W 27th St
New York, NY 10001 United States


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


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



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



APRIL 18 – JUNE 29

Featured artist, Inge Bruggeman will be exhibiting her new project Deposits, which is the second piece in her ongoing series called The Active Reading Series where readers explore the physical act of reading in different ways. Deposits is a book that is meant to be read while ascending or descending a short ladder.

She will also be displaying another recent book project titled, The Quickest Forever, a contemplative series of works rendering language as an attempt to know, control, and own one’s existence over time. Inspired by the life and work of Orra White Hitchcock, one of America’s earliest women botanical and scientific illustrators and artists, Inge investigates the book as a geological artifact in itself. The exhibition will also feature other sculptural and framed works that engage the viewer in asking how we embody information (text, words, language) from our surrounding environment and how it becomes part of the layers of ourselves.

The Quickest Forever by Inge Bruggeman, 2017. 10.5 x 7 x .5” (last spread), mixed media letterpress printed artist book.

Opening Reception: April 18, 2019, 6:30 pm
Artist Talk: June 27, 2019, 6:30 pm

Dignidad: Maria Veronica San Martin


Photo by Catalina Riutort

An exhibition based on secret telephone documents about Colonia Dignidad in collaboration with The National Archives of Chile, The Association of Memory and Human Rights on Colonia Dignidad and the lawyer Winfried Hempel.

Dignidad is an Art installation at The National Archive of Chile of the Chilean artist María Verónica San Martín based on secret telephone documents about Colonia Dignidad. Found in 2012 by the ex-colonel and lawyer Winfried Hempel, the audios reveal for the first time to the public conversations between Paul Schäfer and other Nazi agents during 1978. Through sculpture, sound, performance, text, and a selection of historical archives, San Martín reveals a complex system of codes and transcontinental actions that culminated in crimes against minors and opponents of the Chilean civic-military dictatorship (1973-1990). Next year the exhibition Dignidad will travel to the The Center for Book Arts in New York, the ATA gallery in San Francisco as a performance, and to the Museum Meermanno in The Hague.

María Verónica San Martín is a Chilean-born, New York-based artist working in printmaking, artist books, installations, sculpture, and performance art. San Martín addresses memory as a pivotal factor for the understanding of the neo-liberal, globalized present, turning recently to the subject matter of the Chilean dictatorship’s violence (1973-1990), vis-à-vis the United States and Nazism’s involvement in that violence. She was a studio artist at The Whitney Museum ISP during 2017-2018 and has had exhibitions at The Museum of Memory and Human Rights, Chile; BRIC Arts Media, NY; The Cantor Art Center, Stanford University, CA; The Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Germany. Her work is in the collections of The Pompidou Centre, The New York Public Library, and The Walker Museum, among others.

Photo by Catalina Riutort


Una exhibición basada en documentos telefónicos secretos sobre Colonia Dignidad en colaboración con el Archivo Nacional de Chile, La Asociación por la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos Colonia Dignidad Y el abogado Winfried Hempel.

Dignidad es una instalación de la artista chilena María Verónica San Martín basada en documentos telefónicos secretos sobre Colonia Dignidad. Encontrados el año 2012 por el ex colono Winfried Hempel, los audios revelan por primera vez al público conversaciones entre Paul Schäfer y otros agentes Nazis durante 1978. Por medio de la escultura, el sonido, la performance, el texto y selección de archivos históricos, San Martín revela un complejo sistema de claves y acciones transcontinentales que culminaron en crímenes a menores y disidentes políticos. El próximo año la exposición Dignidad viajara al Center for Arts de Nueva York, la galería ATA en San Francisco como performance, y al Museo Meermanno de la Haya.

María Verónica San Martín es artista chilena residente en Nueva York. Desde el año 2012 se ha especializado en técnicas de grabado desarrollando la serie Memoriales Móviles compuesta por siete libros de artista en torno a las violaciones a los derechos humanos ocurridas durante la dictadura chilena, y la directa participación de Estados Unidos y el Nazismo. Su obra se encuentra presente en más de 44 colecciones en siete países alrededor del mundo, incluyendo el Museo Pompidou en París, el Museo Meermanno en La Haya y la Librería del Congreso en Washington DC, entre otros. San Martín ha exhibido de forma individual y grupal destacando el Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos de Santiago; BRIC Arts Media en Nueva York; The Bayerische Staatsbibliotheken Múnich. San Martín es representada por la galería Booklyn Inc. en Nueva York.

Opening Reception: January 18, 2019, 6:30 pm

Artist Performance: March 7, 2019, 6:30 pm