BOSTON COLLEGE McMULLEN MUSEUM OF ART HOSTS
Book As Art: Artists’ Books From The National Museum
of Women in the Arts
February 14 –May 31, 2009
Exclusive venue since its 2006-07 Washington, DC display
CHESTNUT HILL, MA (12-08) — The McMullen Museum of Art at Boston
College will host The Book As Art: Artists’ Books From The
National Museum of Women in the Arts, on view February 14 through
May 31, 2009.
Organized by the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) in Washington,
DC and curated by NWMA’s Curator of Book Arts Krystyna Wasserman,
as a 20th anniversary exhibition, it was displayed there from October
2006- through February 2007. The McMullen Museum is the exhibition’s
exclusive venue since its NMWA display.
The Book as Art has been sponsored by special NMWA friends.
In addition, generous support is provided by the Estate of Rose J. Bratton;
NMWA Library Fellows; Lorraine Grace; and Margaret M. Johnston. Presentation
at the McMullen has been underwritten by Boston College and the Patrons
of the Museum.
The Book as Art is a landmark exhibition of artists’ books
by artists from the NMWA’s permanent collection, which is recognized
nationally and internationally as one of the outstanding collections
of this interdisciplinary art medium in the world.
According to NMWA organizers, the exhibition welcomes visitors to the
amazing world of artists’ books, and is designed to spark viewers’ imagination
and to broaden popular understanding of and appreciation for this interdisciplinary
They write: “Treasures of intricate craftsmanship, artists’ books
take every possible form, include every artistic medium and method of
bookmaking, and engage every subject from food and family to politics
and poetry, familiar tales to wild fantasy. A majority of the most gifted
book artists are women, owing perhaps to women’s attraction to
storytelling, intimacy and collaboration.”
“Within the context of a University where books have long played
a key role in the educational enterprise and where text has been privileged
as the primary source of information, the McMullen is pleased to invite
viewers to contemplate an exceptional selection of artists’ books.
These objects expand the traditional definition of books; they impart
information through a variety of innovative—and more balanced—interrelationships
between text and image,” according to McMullen Museum Director
and Professor of Art History Nancy Netzer.
[MEDIA NOTE: Jpg images available upon request from the Museum:
email Mary Curranat firstname.lastname@example.org. A slideshow of images,
and more exhibition details, are at www.bc.edu/artmuseum]
The Book As Art
“Artists’ books can be defined as art objects in the form of books,” according
to the NMWA’s press release on the exhibition. “When the content
and form of a book are considered together, and given equal significance, the
book becomes more than a simple container for information. The goal of many
book artists is to involve the reader actively in the viewing process, not
only to see the words on the page but also to think about how the words, pictures,
and physical form of the object all contribute to the meaning.”
This exhibition comprises the work of 82 artists—from 25 states
and 12 foreign countries—and presents 82 unique books and book-objects,
fine press limited editions and multiple bookworks created between 1970
and the present.
NMWA organizers describe it as reflecting the times in which we live. “It
penetrates the darkest corners of the soul, reveals human victories
over violence, sickness and death, and touches on the vagaries of love.
It is relevant and exciting because of the artists’ interests
in humanity that so strongly reverberates in the majority of the works.
“The medium of artists’ books needs more champions,” they
add. “In the highly competitive, constantly changing world of
contemporary art, where name recognition and shock value often bring
fame and fortune, artists’ books ask for slow contemplation and
yield unprecedented intellectual rewards.”
Public Opening Celebration: February 16
Monday, February 16, the public is invited to join Boston College community
members at an opening celebration, free of charge and held at the Museum.
The public opening will be preceded by a black-tie opening for invited
guests on February 14.
Exhibition Theme Sections
The Book as Art is divided into the following nine theme
sections drawn from the artists’ ideas, concerns and experiences.
Below are brief descriptions culled from the NMWA’s exhibition
Storytellers: Women all over the world and
in every age have played the role of storytellers. A number of artists
maintain the book in this role, though the tales and fantasies they
recount are not meant for children.
Nature: A number of artists created works
in praise of nature, and expressed the ambivalence deeply felt by the
majority of the society that our feeling of kinship with nature engenders
both empathy and guilt.
Food and the Body: The modern woman gives
a great deal of thought to her physical self. Several artists take a
serious look at women, illness, aging and the medical industry, underscoring
physical, emotional and sexual aspects of the female experience.
Autobiographies: Women artists are often
concerned with issues of identity and gender that find expression in
confessional and autobiographical narrative.
Dreamers and Magicians: Dreams, magic and
the subconscious have long been a source of fascination for artists,
particularly those of the 20th century.
Historians: Artists’ books
are common containers for political thought and expressions of public
consciousness. Several artists in this section confront dark episodes
such as the Holocaust and the tragedy of September 11, 2001.
Mothers, Daughters and Wives: Central to
many women’s personal histories are their roles as mothers, daughters
and wives. Here artists explore personal happiness in the family setting.
Travelers: Traveling, whether across the
globe or through the imagination, is a frequent source of inspiration
for book artists.
Inspired by the Muses: A large number of
artists are inspired by the muses of poetry, music and theater. The
works in this section include books with recordings of music, a volume
incorporating a set of shadow puppets, the visual representations of
Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony, and Purcell’s opera Dido
Accompanying Exhibition Catalogue
produced a fully-illustrated catalogue to accompany the exhibition. It includes
an essay by Krystyna Wasserman, NMWA Curator of Book Arts and curator of The
Book As Art. The catalogue also includes statements by the artists.
McMullen Museum Installation
The McMullen installation has been designed by McMullen exhibition designer
Diana Larsen and McMullen graphic designer John McCoy. Wall texts
for the sections of the McMullen Museum exhibition will be written
by the following from Boston College: Cutberto Garza, provost
and dean of faculties; Ben Birnbaum, executive director, Office of
Marketing Communications; Clare Dunsford, associate dean, College
of Arts and Sciences; Richard Kearney, Charles Seelig Professor, Philosophy
Department; Zine Magubane, associate professor, Sociology Department;
Eric Strauss, research associate professor, Biology Department; David
Quigley, interim dean, College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences;
Dana Sajdi, assistant professor, History Department; Judith Wilt,
professor, Newton College Alumnae Chair, English Department. Labels
for the 82 books have been written by the artists.
McMullen Museum of Art
McMullen Museum is renowned for organizing interdisciplinary exhibitions
that ask new questions and break new ground in the display and scholarship
of the works on view. It serves as a dynamic educational resource for
all of New England as well as the national and the international community.
The Museum displays its notable permanent collection and mounts exhibitions
of international scholarly importance from all periods and cultures
of the history of art. In keeping with the University’s central
teaching mission, the Museum’s exhibitions
are accom-panied by scholarly catalogues and related public programs.
The McMullen Museum of Art was named in 1996 by the late Boston College
benefactor, trustee and art collector John J. McMullen and his wife
McMullen Museum Hours and Tours
to the McMullen Museum is free; it is handicapped accessible and open
to the public. The Museum is located in Devlin Hall on BC’s Chestnut
Hill campus, at 140 Common-wealth Avenue. During this exhibition,
hours are: Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Saturday
and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. The Museum will be closed on
the following dates: April 10, 12, 20 and May 25, 2009.
Free group tours will be given every Sunday at 12:30 p.m. They also
may be arranged upon request; call (617) 552-8587. For directions, parking
and information on public programs, visit www.bc.edu/artmuseum or call
The National Museum of Women in the Arts Founded
in 1981 and opened in 1987, the NMWA is the only museum dedicated solely
to celebrating the achievements of women in the visual, performing and
literary arts. For more information about the museum, located in Washington,
DC, visit www.nmwa.org