Walt Whitman’s Words: Inspiring Artists Today

Curated by Deirdre Lawrence.

2019 marks the 200th anniversary of the birth 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.

Center for Book Arts marks 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. 


Isabel Baraona

Sasha Chavchavadze

Allen Crawford

Marianne Dages

Brian Dettmer

Daphne Fitzpatrick

Evelyn Eller

Anne Gilman

Donald Glaister

Sam Gordon

Barbara Henry

Meg Hitchcock

Timothy Hull and Paul Mpagi Sepuya

Sam Ita

Stefan Killen

Richard Kostelanetz

Karen Kunc

Sophia Le Fraga

Angela Lorenz

Russell Maret

Barry McCallion

Mark McMurray

Susan Newmark

Ilse Schreiber-Noll

Brian Selznick

Clarissa Sligh

Peter Spagnuolo

Elizabeth Tonnard

Walt Whitman

Rutherford Witthus

Marilyn Zornado

Exhibition Views

view of gallery from printshop door
Installation view of Walt Whitman's Words at Center for Book arts, 2019.
view of galklery from foyer door
Installation view of Walt Whitman's Words at Center for Book arts, 2019.
view of three shelves with accordion books on them
Installation view of Walt Whitman's Words at Center for Book arts, 2019.
View of gallery from bindery door.
Installation view of Walt Whitman's Words at Center for Book arts, 2019.
Vastness by Karen Kunc
Vastness by Karen Kunc, 2013-2014
Crossing Brooklyn Ferry by Stefan Killen
Crossing Brooklyn Ferry by Stefan Killen, 2019
Photographic collage of a man and nature
The accidental Egyptian and occidental arrangements: a collaborative project by Timothy Hull and Paul Mpagi Sepuya, 2010
a square of words spiraling inwards
Chanting the Square Deific by Meg Hitchcock, 2014
a portrait of walt whitman in blue
Long Ago, When I Was a Young Man... Walt Whitman by Barbara Henry, 2012
a drawing of a pyramid with a sunset behind
Pyramid by Sam Gordon
a collage of walt whitman's words in green and tan
Language Collage Walt Whitman by Evelyn Eller, 2018
Objects of Unknown Use by Marianne Dages, 2017
a baby seemingly made up of blue ribbons surrounded by whitman poems
Whitman Illuminated: Song of Myself by Allen Crawford, 2014
three people gather around an artwork at the center of the gallery
View of the opening reception for Walt Whitman's Words on October 4, 2019.
a page spread from Henry's book showing a photograph of a woman walking down the street
Walt Whitman's Faces: A Typographic Reading by Barbara Henry, 2012
the pages of a whitman book are woven together color
As I Ebb’d With The Ocean Of Life by Barry McCallion
Song of Me and Myself, plate 28 by Sophia Le Fraga, 2011
a book is held open
Song of Myself American Renaissance by Elisabeth Tonnard, 2015
two men walk towards one another against a backdrop of the night sky
Live Oak, with Moss by Brian Selznick, 2019
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