Friday, April 29, 2011

Artists' Book Exhibit: A Booker's Dozen

While looking at upcoming events in the area I noticed a traveling exhibit called Bookers Dozen 2011 on loan from the Idaho Center for the Book (ICB) at Boise State University will be on display at the Coeur d’Alene Library during the month of May. The exhibit consists of 14 handmade and self-published books often called Artists' Books. Intrigued, I decided to check it out.

According the ICB website, the exhibit is the ninth edition of a state-wide competition founded in 1994 "to reward and encourage bookmaking, to promote Idaho bookmakers, and to inspire Idahoans to make their own books."

Amazingly, the 2011 competition drew 109 entries including national and international artists.
Perhaps due to the fact that the show has been on a transitional hiatus since 2008, or perhaps because of the resurgence of interest in the book as an object and in unique books as a counterbalance to digital artifacts, Booker’s Dozen 2011 elicited an astonishing response. - art professor and center director Stephanie Bacon
Now I am excited! I just learned four new things:

1. There is an organization in Idaho dedicated to books. Yay!

2. After troubling news earlier this year about technology and e-books cutting into the book market, I found it comforting to learn people are not only still reading books, at least 109 in the state of Idaho are actually making them. Double yay!!

3. An Artists' Book is a book made by an artist. One artist calls the art form a "crossroads between art, crafts, and creative writing." Each book is considered a piece of art and may or may not look like books as we traditionally think of them. They have several distinguishing characteristics: they are portable and often (usually) enclosed in a protective case or container that is part of the work itself, they are mixed media, and they are meant to be interactive.

4. Jurors for the book competition selected 14 books out of those entered to travel across the state as part of the 2011 biennial exhibition. There it is - a new factoid. Everybody knows a dozen is 12. A baker’s dozen is 13. And now I've discovered that a booker’s dozen is 14! Who knew?

About the ICB
The Center for the Book at the Library of Congress, Washington, D. C., upon recommendation of the Idaho State Library, in Boise, Idaho, designated the Hemingway Western Studies Center at Boise State University as the Idaho Center for the Book in November, 1993.

The Idaho Center for the Book was established to encourage and promote an interest in reading, writing, making, disseminating, and collecting books. The ICB also seeks to preserve and publicize the bibliophilic heritage of the Gem State.

ICB publishes a semi-annual newsletter, as well as books and videos relating to Idaho and book history, Book Arts, and related book topics. It sponsors (often with the assistance of the Idaho Commission on the Arts) "Booker's Dozen", and other projects in coordination and support with the efforts of a variety of state and national organizations.

The above information is from the ICB website. For more information on ICB and other exhibits go to:

If you want to take a gander at these books, the Booker’s Dozen Exhibit can be found in the glass cases in the lower level of the Coeur d’Alene library, 704 E. Front Street, from May 1 through May 27. For more information:

Lots of interesting examples of Artists' Books can be found online. Just give it a Google.


Jennifer Rova said...

What a great exhibit. I did not know about ICB so your article was thoroughly informative. Excellent.

Nancy Owens Barnes said...

Thanks for highlighting this exhibit, Mary Jane. I'm anxious to take a look at it next time I'm "in town."