This guide will help you use library tools to find information and inspiration for your research on artists' books.
Photo: Divide and Conquer by Maureen Cummins, Rosendale, N.Y. : Women's Studio Workshop, 2007
Artists' books encompass a wide range of processes and materials and can be hard to define. Most simply, artists' books are works of art that are in book form or inspired by the book. Artists' books may or may not have text; some artists' books have images, but not all do. As a fine art, the artist's book is the vision and creation of an artist. There are exceptions to most limitations one could apply to the medium. Most importantly, artists' books are interactive; they are intended to be read and handled by an individual. That makes them unique among many other fine arts in collections, which viewers are prohibited from touching. A core motivation of artists who turned to book making in the 1960s was to remove their work from the restrictive and elitist environments of museums and galleries. They wanted to make art more accessible and democratic by producing multiples and expanding the reach of their artwork to untapped audiences.
SCAD's ACA Library in Atlanta owns a premier collection of over 2,100 artists' books. SCAD's collection contains unique works by individual artists as well as small editions and items from fine arts presses. The collection is unusual in its variety; it includes works from more than 1,000 artists and has a deep holding of books ranging from the 1960s through contemporary works. An especially unique aspect of SCAD's collection is the group of Nexus Press books, which is the largest of its kind. Nexus Press was a fine arts press in Atlanta that was in production from 1978-2003.
SCAD's philosophy has always been that the Artist's Book Collection is a teaching collection. The library offers subject specific classes each quarter to a wide variety of majors. Students, faculty, and the public can make appointments to visit the collection, handle the items, and in doing so gain inspiration for their own creative projects. Schedule a tour of the Artist's Book Collection for your class by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.