Library Exhibits

Paper & Ink

An exhibit of artists’ books and historical research by students in a cluster based around Muhlenberg College’s Rare Books collection.

May 7, 2017 - June 30, 2017 - Rare Books Exhibit Room, Level B, Trexler Library


The work in this exhibition comes from an integrative project completed by students in the cluster Paper & Ink: Art and History of the Book.

A cluster is made up of two distinct classes that share the same group of students. The two classes introduce methods from separate fields to explore a single topic. Books and Their Readers, taught by Lynda Yankaskas, focuses on the history of reading and printing technology primarily in the U.S. Printmaking and the Book, taught by Emily Orzech, focuses on contemporary visual expression through the creation of artist’s books.


What is printmaking?

Printmaking is the process of creating an image on one surface and transferring it onto another through the use of pressure, allowing for multiple copies to be created, much like a rubber stamp. Students in Printmaking and the Book learned linocut, screenprint, and photocopy lithography along with book binding techniques.


What is an artist’s book?

Artist’s books are visual art objects that reference traditional book forms. Visual material may unfold over a series of pages, may include traditional bindings, and may include a written text.


What is book history?

Book history includes the study of authorship (who wrote what, and why), reception (who read what, and how did readers respond to books), and publishing (how were books as physical objects made, and what were the economics and politics of book production and distribution). Students in Books and Their Readers learned about authorship, reception, and publishing since the invention of moveable-type printing in Europe in the 15th century, with a focus on developments in the United States.


Where did the work in this exhibit come from?

Each student spent the semester working with a particular volume from Muhlenberg’s Rare Books Collection. Students researched each book’s biography, placing it in the context of the history of reading and book production. As part of their integrative assignment each student then created a contemporary artist’s book based on this historical research. Students were asked to visually respond to the content or context of the book. This response might include referencing historical archives, critiquing certain positions within the book such as Orientalism, or reflecting on how past events resonate in the contemporary moment. Students could use any technique or combination of techniques they learned in Professor Orzech’s class.