New lecture series at IU’s Fine Arts Library features artists who create handmade books

Bea Nettles photos

Bea Nettles created her “Mountain Dream Tarot Cards” in the 1970s, before the advent of digital image manipulation tools such as Photoshop. Nettles will speak at IU Bloomington on Oct. 27.

The Fine Arts Library at Indiana University Bloomington is home to many one-of-a-kind objects of art. In addition to its stacks of books covering many facets of art and its making, the library hosts an extensive collection of artists’ books.

Jasmine Burns, the interim head of the Fine Arts Library, has designed a new lecture series to highlight what she describes as their magnificent, historic collection.

“The book arts are part of a wonderfully fluid artistic style that pushes all boundaries of the traditional book form,” she said. “Artists’ books can take on any material format such as flip books; tunnel and accordion books; and decks of cards, to name just a few.”

Karen Baldner book

Karen Baldner, who teaches book arts at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, even makes the paper for her unique, personal books. She will speak at the Fine Arts Library on Sept. 13.

Burns added that artists’ books are not constrained by medium or their mode of production.

The lecture series will begin this fall with three Midwestern artists who choose books as their medium.

The first guest will be Karen Baldner, an adjunct instructor who leads the book arts minor within Herron’s printmaking BFA program at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. Baldner’s work is on display in the cases outside the Fine Arts Library.  Work by her students has been shown there in the past.

Each of the artist talks in the Fine Arts Library Reading Room will be free and open to the public:

  • 5:30 p.m. Sept. 13, Karen Baldner — Often working in mixed media, Baldner makes her own paper and incorporates human hair into many of her books. Her German-Jewish heritage and experiences in post-war Germany inspire her artwork.
  • 5 p.m. Oct. 27, Bea Nettles — Known primarily for photographic works that are highly autobiographical, Nettles draws her imagery from nature and her experiences as an aging woman. Photographs from her “Mountain Dream Tarot Cards” are on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
  • 5:30 p.m. Nov. 15, David Wolske — The history and traditions of letterpress printing and fine-art printmaking influence Wolske’s abstract style. He uses a variety of wood type, metal type and digital tools when creating his books. Wolske earned his MFA in graphic design at IU Bloomington.

“This is the first year for this series, but I hope to make it an ongoing event,” Burns said.

As part of the upcoming renovation of the Eskenazi Museum of Art, the Fine Arts Library will relocate from the iconic I.M. Pei building to a larger, permanent space on the ninth floor of the Herman B Wells Library. The current Fine Arts Library location is expected to close in summer 2017.

David Wolske prints

David Wolske adapts the visual language of letterpress printing in works such as, from left, “Vessel No. 1,””Bad at Maths No. 2” and “Vessel No. 3.” He will speak at IU Bloomington on Nov. 15.

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