Clockwise from front left: Fine Arts Adjunct Faculty Jody Williams, Technical Services Librarian Kay Kroeff-Streng, Library Director Amy Naughton Becker, and Interim President Karen Wirth with a selection of Wirth's and Williams's artists' books in the MCAD Library.
Clockwise from front left: Fine Arts Adjunct Faculty Jody Williams, Technical Services Librarian Kay Kroeff-Streng, Library Director Amy Naughton Becker, and Interim President Karen Wirth with a selection of Wirth's and Williams's artists' books in the MCAD Library.

April 15, 2019

Dear MCAD Community,

MCAD’s academic offerings are broad: fourteen undergraduate degrees, three graduate degrees, a full slate of liberal arts and online courses. Within those are many specialty areas of study. One subset is artists’ books, part of the print paper book major in the Fine Arts Department. It’s a small program with a very wide reach, and I’d like to share it as just one example of the interconnected web of learning at MCAD.

Printmaking, papermaking, and book classes are among the first to fill during every registration period, with broad appeal to students from all majors. The topics in book classes range from binding and printing techniques, structure and content, image and text. We have been fortunate to have many talented faculty teach those classes. But I especially want to acknowledge Jody Williams, who has taught at MCAD for thirty-four years and has had tremendous impact on her students. In addition to teaching, Jody has an active studio practice, and she recently received the 2019 Minnesota Book Artist Award, given at the annual the Minnesota Book Awards Ceremony. Jody also received the inaugural award in 2008.

MCAD attendees at the Minnesota Book Awards Ceremony for Fine Arts Adjunct Faculty Jody Williams, recipient of the 2019 Minnesota Book Artist Award, April 6, 2019. Left to right: Fine Arts Adjunct Faculty Monica Larson, Sarah Evenson ’16, Fine Arts Chair Howard Quednau, Fine Arts Visiting Faculty Jeremy Lundquist, Continuing Education Instructor Mary Leikvold, Cathy Ryan ’07, Fine Arts Adjunct Faculty Jody Williams, President Karen Wirth, Printshop and Paper Studio Director Diana Eicher, Fine Arts Professor Natasha Pestich, and Fine Arts Adjunct Faculty Bridget O’Malley.

The MCAD Library is a strategic partner for teaching and learning. It has an extensive artists’ book collection, which is an invaluable resource for both MCAD and the area community. Important books from the collection have been lent to both the Walker Art Center and Carleton College for their exhibitions. The collection includes books from the 1960s up to the present day. The strong core collection is from the 1970s, a seminal period for the field, and was built with funding from the Friends of the Library.

Along with collecting professional artists’ work, the library adds to the collection through an annual student artists' book competition, with a purchase prize and awards for two runners-up. Funding for the awards comes from the library’s biannual book sales, and is juried by two professionals from the Twin Cities community and one staff member. Recent jurors have represented the American Craft Council and Midway Art Gallery. Students get recognition for their work and exposure with professionals, while the library adds notable work to the collection.

The library has also held an exhibition program since 2012, hosting eight to ten student-proposed shows annually. Projects have included deconstructed books as installation, interactive community writing and response, painted and printed books, and various forms of invention with the now defunct library catalog cards. An aside: while I do appreciate the ease and robustness of the digital catalog, I miss the haptic experience of flipping through the cards with their sometimes cryptic annotations.

Other important partners are the Minnesota Center for Book Arts (MCBA) and Highpoint Center for Printmaking. The MCBA Collegiate Fellowship is in its tenth year, initiated and continued with funding by 2007 postbaccalaureate alum Cathy Ryan. The award provides the winning student an eight-week summer residency at the book center, mentorship, materials stipend, and an exhibition at MCAD in the fall. In addition, MCAD students and recent alumni have been recipients of Highpoint Center for Printmaking’s Jerome Emerging Artist Fellowship and Jerome Residency. Recent alumni have also received grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board and Minnesota Regional Arts Council.

Both MCBA and Highpoint have also served as internship sites. All undergraduate MCAD students are required to complete an internship, which provides primary experiential learning in their fields. Internships for students interested in artists’ books have included Dick & Jane Letterpress, Cave Paper, Circa Gallery, Campbell Logan Bindery, and Midnight Paper Sales, the studio of renowned wood engraver and book artist Gaylord Schanilec.

The college maintains an institutional membership in the College Book Art Association and encourages student memberships. MCAD reimburses students for membership fees enabling them to make professional connections while still in school. CBAA provides an international community of practitioners and educators, along with exhibition opportunities, a scholarly journal, an active blog, and a network to tap into as they move through their careers. And the range of careers is wide—from starting a print/design business, to joining a New York design firm that specializes in museum catalogs, to earning an MFA degree at a prestigious school, to exhibiting at international venues.

I hope this peek beyond a course catalog provides a glimpse of the depth of one program at MCAD. It represents the richness of opportunities for all of our programs and our commitment to student success.

Karen Wirth
Interim President

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