Book making is a diverse and all-encompassing format that fulfills Spitzmueller needs for a structure for ideas and artistic expression. Its utilitarian nature has always appealed to her – many pages/surfaces for media and yet, in a flash, it can be transformed by closing it up to carry around or put on a shelf. It is low tech and practically indestructible. For Spitzmueller, studying the book’s historic development and making models from extant exemplars has been a life long study of the history of book formats. She likes to stretch what a book is, yet always honor the qualities of the numerous materials and the craftsmanship that combine to become books.
Spitzmueller’s exploration into historical bookbinding has led her to create various structures from books in jars to hanging books and from girdle books to sketchbooks with large foldouts. She stretches what a book can be, yet honors the qualities of the materials and craftsmanship that combine to become a book. For this installation at the Center, Spitzmueller’s interest in the expanded book is presented through several works that have unique mechanisms and/or fold outs that create new narratives as the pages reveal themselves.
Pamela Spitzmueller is Chief Conservator for Special Collections in the Harvard University Libraries. She previously headed the conservation department at the University of Iowa Libraries, and worked as a rare book conservator at the Library of Congress and the Newberry Library. She lectures and teaches book structures and their history, as well as binding one-of-a-kind books focused on structure complementing text. Her main interests are book sewing techniques, long and link stitch bookbinding, atlas structures, and girdle/overcover style bindings. She received a National Endowment for the Humanities Grant in 1979, an Andrew Mellon Foundation Grant in 1993, and a Kress Foundation Fellowship in 1992.
The Fellowship provides for a master book arts instructor to come to the Center to teach a Master Class in conjunction with an exhibition–a small retrospective–showcasing the brilliance of this master artist. Past Faculty Fellows have included such noted artists as Barbara Tetenbaum, Julie Chen, Johanna Drucker, Susan Joy Share, and Robert Bringhurst.
Support for the Center for Book Arts’ visual arts programming 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.