Working with Found Books

The Reanimation Library is a collection of de-accessioned and discarded books, primarily selected for their visual content. The library is a resource for artistic production, a source of material to be harvested and manipulated into new content. The library travels and hosts branches in other cities. Additionally there is a regular feature called Word Processor, which features written products from the library. Portions of the collection are available online.


Reversing Vandalism

From the San Francisco Public Library’s website.

In early 2001, San Francisco Public Library staff began finding books hidden under shelving units throughout the Main Library. The books had been carved with a sharp instrument: covers and inner pages were slashed and odd almond-shaped pieces were cut out. As the mutilated books began accumulating, staff recognized that most of the volumes were related to issues of gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered individuals, HIV/AIDS and women’s health issues. Staff members united to help find and inventory the over 600 damaged books, as well as to observe the stacks waiting for someone to shove damaged books under a shelf.

Eventually the vandal was caught by a librarian, on her day off, who alerted Library Security. The perpetrator was arrested, charged and found guilty of a hate crime. When the reports of the crime hit the newspapers, an outpouring of support as well as offers to help replace the volumes came from sympathizers across the country.

After the damaged books were returned by the San Francisco Police Department, most of them were determined to be beyond repair and would be withdrawn from the collection. The volumes were digitally documented, but it was felt that discarding the books would only complete the vandal’s crime.

Jim Van Buskirk, Program Manager for the Hormel Center, in conversation with local visual artists and Library staff initiated the process leading to the Reversing Vandalism project. A public call for participation was circulated offering the destroyed books to artists, community members and interested individuals. Response to the project was immediate and intense. People quickly understood that this vandalism was not solely about gay and lesbian issues or even about books, but represented a social climate increasingly filled with fear and hate. Participants from more than twenty states, as well as Japan and France, contributed work in a wide range of media: works on paper, sculpture, assemblage, textiles, paintings, photography, even a working clock.

This pdf has images from the exhibition

Cutting with Intention.


Author Jonathan Safron Foer used an existing novel to literally carve out another story. {visit the link and check out the video showing clips of the book production}

Drawing as Erasure


Brian Chippendale’s Maggots is a comic drawn over a Japanese book catalog. The drawings are dense, and the residual finely printed Japanese characters come through as additional tone and noise.





Rare Books & the Book Arts


Pictorial Websters

This video of John Carrera’s project is a fine example of an artist book from start to finish; it documents the artist research and the labor entailed in the craft of book-binding.

What is also exciting is that this book exists in different editions, a mass produced unlimited edition was published as well.


William Morris was a Novelist, Poet, Textile artist, and Socialist, amongst other vocations; he was a critical figure in the british Arts and Crafts movement. In his various pursuits he created fine woodblock and illuminated editions of his fantasy novels and other writings. Here’s a link to a viewable archive of books from University of Iowa{which is an important center of the book arts in the US}.


In Los Angles there is the Huntington Estate, which has incredible gardens as well as an incredible library of rare books and manuscripts, here’s a link to the Huntington Digital Library, with some of their viewable manuscripts.


Round 2 — More Awesomeness

Hello Class!

A belated Happy New Year and hearty Welcome Back to Alfred.  The spring semester will bring many new challenges and you will accomplish ever more as you all continue to open your minds to expanded possibilities for art making.  I am sure that you are ready to get started and that the winter break has been a fun and much needed time to re-center, connect with family and friends and a moment to review what the first semester of college was all about.

As some of you may already know I am on sabbatical this semester which means that I am taking a semester long break from teaching to concentrate on my own art making.  Katarina will be Chair of Foundations this semester; she and Sarah will continue to be your academic advisors and will organizing all that has to do with Foundations.  While I won’t be in the classroom on a daily basis I will be looking forward to seeing your progress at the Foundations end of semester exhibition in May.



Tuesday’s class

Hi all and welcome back to sunny Alfred!

For our first week back we are going to be making a series of sketchbooks, led by Andrew Oesch and the Foundations faculty.  Over the course of the week Andrew will be sharing some sketchbook-related links on the blog.  Also on the blog, many of the School of Art and Design faculty are sharing images from their personal sketchbook pages. So please check in to see how the faculty here at Alfred think through their ideas and forms…

We are going to jump into making on Tuesday so you will need to bring the following with you:

Cutting mat, straight edge or ruler,  x-acto knife, scissors, drawing materials of all kinds, and any decorative papers, collage material, old drawings, etc that you want to incorporate into some sketchbooks.

See you Tuesday at 8 in the Harder Hall foundations studios.



More material requests

Adding some more materials for you to bring back:

If you are in the Thursday/Friday See:Lab class with Professors Gotowka and Calvert you will also need to bring :

  • 6″ embroidery hoop
  • embroidery floss of your choosing
  • approx 1-2 yds of cotton poplin fabric (white) – TIP: check JoAnn’s – they always have epic discounts/coupons.

For BOTH See:Lab courses please bring 3 rolls of different colored masking tapes (found at any craft store or Target/Walmart)

And for Sarah Blood and Meghan’s MakeLab workshop please bring:

  • your black outfit
  • a white bedsheet
  • a favorite material (fiber, paper)
  • small sketchbook (moleskine, homemade..) – one that will fit in your back pocket or larger

And for Sara’s CoLab class bring a used cookbook or How-To manual





Hope you all have had wonderful, relaxing, rejuvenating breaks and are ready to make some art again! Its a new year and we got some new groups, new faculty and some new ideas for us to play with.

THIS is the new group list. You will be in smaller groups with some new faces.  Find what group you are in and then check the workshop schedule HERE.

I am updating faculty profiles, so please check out the new faculty for the Spring.

MATERIALS (read carefully so you will be prepared)

we are asking that you bring back some things with you for use this semester.

You will ALL need to bring for the first week back: decorative papers, collage material, and a used hard-bound book (this can be any book of any size), scissors, ruler/straight-edge and an x-acto knife/box cutter (with fresh blades)

  • For the CoLab classes (Sara and Kat) you will also need to bring some collage material, old photographs or any other 2D visual information that is interesting and pertinent to you.
  • For Sarah Blood and Megan Scheffer’s MakeLab please bring an outfit that is all black – this means no logos or images – head to toe black.
  • If you are in  Andrew Oesch’s FuseLab course he would like you to bring the following:

On our first day we will be having a gift exchange, so you will need to bring a gift to give to your fellow classmates.

For your gift you are to bring the most valuable thing you are willing to give away.

Wrap this gift, and outside the package have a card, which describes the “story” of your gift. This narrative may describe the objects history, what it is, who made it, where it is from, why you deem it valuable.

We will use this gift exchange as a jumping off point to discuss what we value and how value is communicated.

You will be giving this thing away and you will be receiving a gift in return.


And finally, this – because I love it.

Happy New Year!!