Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Handcrafted Books in Archives and Special Collections Inspire Student’s Thesis

Steven W. Garst, a graduate student in Ball State’s Department of Art, spent a lot of time researching private press books using Archives and Special Collections, located on Bracken Library’s second floor. He found that he was particularly enamored with the work of Walter Hamady, a professor at the University of Wisconsin, whose Perishable Press was one of the most influential American private presses.

Over the course of four decades, the Perishable Press produced more than 125 handcrafted books bearing Hamady's craftsmanship and eclectic detail to the elements of book design. The appeal of Hamady’s Perishable Press led Steve to a fascination of books and how they are made.

Specializing in printmaking, Steve has written, printed, and bound nine books exhibited in a display in Bracken Library 1-West. The books represent items that led to his thesis, tentatively titled Exploring the Narrative, and are the products of a bookmaking class and several printmaking classes offered by Ball State’s Department of Art.

In those classes, students are encouraged to make original small edition books with a variety of bindings, books such as pamphlets, accordion, and concertina all of which can be seen in the exhibit. Steve plans to complete his thesis this fall and exhibit his new books in Ball State’s Atrium Gallery. He wants to use his books to entertain and challenge people to look at life from someone else’s perspective.

“It has been said that books are like a Trojan horse,” he noted. “They seem innocent enough on the outside, yet you never know what is going to be found on the inside.”

For information on exhibiting artwork at Bracken Library, contact Susan G. Akers, Marketing Communications Manager,, 765-285-5031.

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