Art inspired by books


UCSD Libraries and San Diego Book Arts sponsor Festival of the Book

An exhibition dedicated to book arts, distinctive works that celebrate the book as an art form, will be on display Sept. 20 through Oct. 31 at UCSD’s Geisel Library.

The San Diego Book Arts Second National Juried Exhibition is part of the Fall Festival of the Book, which began earlier this month and is sponsored by the UCSD Libraries and San Diego Book Arts. Admission to all festival events is free.

Book arts, which have grown in popularity in recent decades, use a variety of materials “to stretch the concept of what a book is,” said Gary Miller, San Diego Book Arts president. Unlike books with text that require page turning, he said, the works “are more like sculptures.”

The pieces “are inspired by the book,” said Lynda Claassen, director of the Mandeville Special Collections Library, which is within the Geisel Library.

“They use the idea of the book to explore an artistic expression,” Claassen said.

Sometimes the works involve both the image and the text, she said, and sometimes the story is involved.

“They don’t all look like books,” she said, “and they’re incredibly inventive.”

For example, Claassen said book art pieces, which are a permanent part of the library, include a 19th-century-style lace cap adorned with tiny handmade paper books and a coin-operated gumball machine that dispenses plastic eggs with miniature books enclosed.

More than 60 pieces will be displayed at the upcoming exhibition. A total of 179 artist’s books created by 84 artists were entered, Miller said. Of those, 61 books by 43 artists were chosen. Fourteen entries are from San Diego County. The others are from out of state.

The works were selected by juror Erika Torri, executive director of the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library in La Jolla.

“Erika has been instrumental in building an extensive collection of artists’ books at the Athenaeum,” Miller said, “and her expertise in this field eminently qualifies her for the task.”

“I think the artwork chosen is of very high quality,” Torri said. “These are one-of-a-kind artists’ books that show a very personalized approach.”

Other Festival of the Book events include a “Books in Miniature” exhibition, a lecture by renowned book artist Julie Chen, a film by internationally recognized artist Mary Ellen Long, and “Lost and Found,” a display of works of art in book form by art, graphic design, multi-media and applied-art students at the San Diego State University Library.

“Books in Miniature,” which began Sept. 2 at the Geisel Library, features a selection of rare miniature books no more than 3 inches in size, and will run through Sept. 16 to coincide with the Miniature Book Society’s annual meeting Sept. 12 through 14 in San Diego.

Long’s film, “Seeing the Forest for the Trees,” will be shown Oct. 11 in the Seuss Room of the Geisel Library. Chen will speak Sept. 12 at the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library. “Lost and Found,” hosted by the SDSU Special Collections and University Archives, will be held Oct. 11 through Dec. 31. A reception and interactive event is planned for Oct. 17.

For more information about Festival of the Book, go to