Recent Exhibits

Social Conscience: The Work of Maureen Cummins

March 15 - June 30, 2015image:  detail from "Crazy Quilt" by Maureen Cummins (1998)

In this exhibition the Kohler Art Library showcases its collection of artists’ books by Maureen Cummins.  She has produced over 30 limited edition books that tackle social justice issues: women’s rights, race relations, human oppression and torture, poverty, identity, and mental illness.  Cummins mines historic material such as original photographs, business documents, slave narratives, hospital records, or other archival matter to explore new and disturbing meanings in and around these issues.  The books on display are:  Accounting; Anthro{A}pology; The Business is Suffering; Checkbook; Crazy Quilt; Divide & Conquer; Femmes Fatales; In the Minute Before, In the Minute After; and Stocks and Bonds

Her working process has evolved from dumpster-diving in Brooklyn to being an artist-in-residence at major research archives, including the American Antiquarian Society.  She has received numerous grants, notably the prestigious Pollock-Krasner award.  

Maureen Cummins will be welcomed to campus as the University of Wisconsin-Madison Libraries hosts its first Annual Bernstein Book Arts Lecture.  Cummins will present Artist as Archivist: The Work of Maureen Cummins, on March 19, 2015 at 11:30 am in room 126, Memorial Library.  The public lecture is funded by the Leonora G. Bernstein Artists’ Book Endowment and sponsored by the Kohler Art Library.  

On view from March 15 – June 30, 2015 Maureen Cummins

Curated by Lyn Korenic, Director, Kohler Art Library

Image: detail from Crazy Quilt by Maureen Cummins. Rosendale, NY: Women's Studio Workshop, 1998.

Image: Maureen Cummins in her studio.








Scripture Transfigured: Visualizing the Christian Bible from the Sixth to the Fifteenth Century

December 19, 2014 - March 15, 2015Image: Bible Moralisée. Codex Vindobonensis 2554 der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek. Graz: Akademische Druck-und Verlagsanstalt, 1973. fol. 1v: God as Creator.

The Bible is sometimes imagined to be a rigid and unchanging book, but this was not the case in the Middle Ages nor is it today. This exhibition presents ten facsimiles of medieval European manuscripts from the Kohler Art Library containing selections of biblical texts and images. These include individual books of the Bible, such as the Apocalypse and the Gospels, as well as books that present biblical texts in the order of the liturgical year, such as Lectionaries and Benedictionals. Also included are picture Bibles and typological commentaries relating Jewish and Christian scriptures. These illuminated manuscript facsimiles creatively blend text and image, signaling their social, political, and performative contexts. They also exemplify how medieval Bibles are transfigured into modern books, adding further variety and historical evolution to the changing form of the Bible.

This exhibition was curated by five Art History graduate students working with Professor Thomas Dale. They selected and researched facsimiles from the Kohler Art Library, wrote caption labels, and worked collaboratively to install the exhibition.

The student curators are: Ashley Cook, Peter Bovenmyer, Daniel Cochran, Mark Summers, and Matthew Westerby.

This display of facsimiles corresponds with the exhibition at the Chazen Museum of Art: Illuminating the Word: The Saint John’s Bible.

Image: Bible Moralisée. Codex Vindobonensis 2554 der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek. Graz: Akademische Druck-und Verlagsanstalt, 1973. fol. 1v: God as Creator.

The Visual Narrative:  Book Arts and Photography

September 23 - December 14, 2014 image from: Finlay, Colin. 12° N x 23° E, 64° S x 60° E.  [S.l.] : Definitive Stories, 2007.

Artists have incorporated photographs into book arts since the late 1960s and continue to use evolving forms of this medium in their work.  This exhibition represents artists’ books covering the last forty-five years that construct visual stories through the use of photography and/or photography combined with text.  These visual narratives tell stories about the world.  They comment on events, people, and issues on both a global and personal front, dealing with topics such as post-colonial identity, ecological concerns, autobiography, women’s history, and social justice, among others.

Photography is a unique story-telling medium in that it is relatively new yet constantly changing and improving.  Additionally, cameras and photography equipment are available to the masses, allowing anyone to participate in creating photos.  Because there are so many available processes to take photos and print them, this exhibit attempts to highlight as many as possible, ranging from cyanotypes to digital prints.

Photography can tell a visual story in ways painting or drawing never could, and depending on the process used, it can look as realistic or manipulated as the artist wants.  Older and more “alternative” processes have been professionally abandoned in favor of newer and cheaper technology, which paved the way for creative appropriation of those older processes.  Polaroids were heralded as taking the first real instant photo, but are now too slow and expensive to satisfy our need for immediate gratification in the same way that Instagram does.  We have become so bombarded with images in our everyday lives that it takes a truly interesting photo and perhaps a compelling visual narrative to hold our gaze and capture our imagination.

This exhibition is mounted in conjunction with the 2014 Society for Photographic Education/Midwest Region Conference, “Yesterday Today: Photography and the Archive,” to be held in Madison, WI from October 16-17, 2014. 

Co-curated by Stephanie Lifshutz, Art Department graduate student, and Lyn Korenic, Director, Kohler Art Library.

Image: Finlay, Colin. 12° N x 23° E, 64° S x 60° E.  [S.l.] : Definitive Stories, 2007.

Popped ArchitectureImage: "Viktorianisches puppenhaus" by Keith Moseley (1999)

June 23 - September 21, 2014

On view are thirteen specimens of pop-up books on the theme of architecture.  The three-dimensional paper models range from the Forbidden City in Beijing, China to a Victorian dollhouse in the round; from ancient, Medieval, and Renaissance buildings to modern works by Antonio Gaudí and Frank Lloyd Wright.  Two other structural models—an imaginary aqueduct by M.C. Escher and the landmark Brooklyn Bridge—are also on display.  Pop-ups are defined by the automatic movement that occurs when their folded pages are opened. The movable mechanisms employed bring collapsed structures to life creating a sculptural and interactive format.  Some of the pop-up books also use tabbed props to add dimension and spatial play.  Both building exteriors and cutaway views of interiors are featured in these dynamic works by paper engineers Lothar Meggendorfer, Keith Moseley, Iain Smyth, and others. 

Curated by Lyn Korenic, Director, Kohler Art Library

Image: Viktorianisches puppenhaus: ein Spiel- und Aufklappbuch uber eine vergangene Epoche, by Keith Moseley. Köln: Könemann Verlagsgesellschaft mbH, 1999.

Mobile Devices: Conveying Movement in Text, Image, and Materialimage: "Ode to a Grand Staircase (For Four Hands)," by Julie Chen and Barbara Tetenbaum, 2001.

March 4 - June 3, 2014

This exhibition explores the theme of mobility—physical, mental, poetic, social, economic, and geographic—within a collection of artists’ books at the Kohler Art Library.  Doing so provides the opportunity to showcase the range of cultural and artistic issues addressed by contemporary book arts.  Some of these issues include immigration, evolution, travel, money, the status of women, cultural exchange, nature and science, and fantasy and the imagination.

Within these books, movement is conveyed through many prisms: the passing of time, distance travelled, exploration, experimentation, sequencing and progression, repetition, fluidity, aspiration and spiritual growth, chance, and anonymity.  A number of the “mobile devices” unfold and expand by means of accordion folds.  With embedded movement and flexibility, the structures invite physical interaction with the viewer.

This exhibition was curated by sixteen graduate students enrolled in LIS: 839 (Art Librarianship) during spring 2014.  Each student selected and researched an artists’ book from the Kohler Art Library and wrote a caption label.  The students worked collaboratively to install the exhibition.

The curators are:  Oliver Bendorf, Lauren Gottlieb-Miller, Carolina Hernandez, Dustin Karls, Shauna Koszegi, Mary Kathryn Kwasnik, Ellen LeClere, Michele Loran, Mariza Morin, Sona Pastel-Daneshgar, Bryce Porter, Rebecca Robbennolt, Laura Rudquist, Susan Seefelt Lesieutre, Kaitlin Springmier, and Jamie Stanaway.

Special thanks to Dan Joe, GLS Graphic Designer, for his assistance with labels and signage.

Image: Ode to a Grand Staircase (For Four Hands), byJulie Chen and Barbara Tetenbaum. Berkeley, CA: Flying Fish Press; Portland, OR: Triangular Press, 2001.

Mesoamerican Manuscript FacsimilesMesoamerican Facsimile

January 16 - March 3, 2014

This exhibition showcases the Mesoamerican manuscript facsimiles that are located in the Kohler Art Library.  The Aztec (Codex Borgia, Codex Fejérváry-Mayer, Codex Borbonicus, and Codex Vaticanus Lat. 3773), Mayan (Codex Dresdensis Maya), and Mixtec (Codex Edgerton and Codex Colombino) facsimiles have been published to replicate the original Pre-Columbian and early Spanish conquest era books.

The Aztec and Mayan codices focus mainly on religious content such as divinatory calendars, gods, rituals, and prophecies.  By contrast, the Mixtec codices are historical in nature and deal with genealogy, marriages, and military and political conquests. Like the original manuscripts, all of the facsimiles use the accordion or screenfold format.

The collaborative artists’ book, Codex Espangliensis: from Columbus to the Border Patrol, uses the accordion structure as it pays homage to the Pre-Columbian manuscript and takes a contemporary look at cross cultural interactions and influences. 

Image: Codex Fejérváry-Mayer. Graz: Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanst., 1971.

This exhibit was curated by Lyn Korenic, Director, Kohler Art Library.