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Artists' Books by Women: Books by Topic

Selected Topics

The defining theme for the Bingham Center's artists' book collection revolves around the concept of "body politics," and women's explorations of what it means to control our own bodies and life experiences, through the medium of book arts. This selected bibliography highlights a variety of topics:

  • The Body
  • Women's Clothing
  • Domesticity
  • Quilting
  • Family Relationships
  • Women's Health
  • Sexuality

Book + Art Exhibit

Book + Art: Artists' Books from the Sallie Bingham Center for Women's History and Culture
In 2010, the Sallie Bingham Center mounted an exhibit as part of a semester-long series of programs in collaboration with UNC Chapel Hill's Sloane Art Library to celebrate artists' books. Many items from the display are featured in this online version of the exhibit.

The Body

Melhon Boe, Lise.  Body Map. Transformer Press, 2009. Body Map folds out into a poster depicting the artist's body, inscribed with text tracing the connections between health and the environment.28 Days card deck by Bea Nettles

Nettles, Bea.  28 Days: A Deck of Cards. Inky Press Productions, 1991. The artist's deck includes both prosaic medical explanations of menstruation and her own expericence of the twenty-eight day cycle. 

Nettles, Bea. The Observer: My Constant Companion. Inky Press Productions, 2005. Observer takes a series of images of the artist from the ages of 10 to 50 in the area surrounded the eyes has been cut out on the central images. These cut out panels produce the unexpected transposition of youthful eyes on a more aged face.

Sakaizumi, Akiko.  Female Sampler.Women's Studio Workshop, 2001.  Packaged suggestively to evoke the phenomenon of consumerism and mass consumption, the artist renders how own body a commodity by including hair and fingernails, among other such samples, in this visceral piece.

Sligh, Clarissa. Wrongly Bodied: Documenting the Transition from Female to Male. 2009. Sligh offers the story of a white female's transition to a male body juxtaposed with the story of Rebecca Craft, a nineteenth century slave who escaped bondage by dressing as a man.

Women's Clothing

Bart, Harriet. Garment Register. Minneapolis: Hermetic Press, 2001.Includes prose from women writers, fabric samples and, mounted on reproductions of ledger pages, photographs of women.

Gaulke, Cheri. Im-’ped-ə-mənt. Rosendale, NY: Women's Studio Workshop, 1991.Im-’ped-ə-mənt explores and condemns the sexual fetishism associated with women's feet, from the ancient practice of foot binding to the modern-day popularity of high heels. The book's centerpiece of two images—one of a foot in a stiletto heel, the other an X-ray of a bound foot—is silkscreened onto handmade paper containing hair and toenail clippings.

Papaya LessonGrossman, C. J. Papaya Lesson. California: C. J. Grossman, s.d. Stuffed bikini underwear house a little box that contains 3 books, two with visual euphemisms people use to describe female and male anatomy and one that signifies condoms.Shame Image by Bob Hsiang, photographer.

Leeb, Susan. Shame. North Carolina, 2005.
Each page is a cutout of an eighteenth-century woman's gown with a naked female torso on the reverse. Folded, these pages slip inside a cloth bag with a sewing pattern design just as a dress pattern would slip into its envelope.

sad little girlMelhorn-Boe, Lise. A Sad Little Girl. North Bay, Ontario: Transformer Press, 1995.
A floral fabric-covered box opens to reveal a cast pink paper doll and five pink paper dresses hanging on small pink hangers. The dresses bear the story of a young girl who doesn't quite fit traditional notions of girlhood—she has been labeled a "bad girl."

Michaelis, Catherine. A Revealing History of Women's Underwear. May Day Press, 2007. Michaelis' gown-shaped book traces the dramatic evolution of the undergarment from antiquity to the twentieth century.

Poehlmann, JoAnna. Glad Rags: A Compilation of Quotations. Milwaukee: JoAnna Poehlmann, c1999." ... a compilation of quotes, poetry and proverbs hand lettered on bristol board imprinted with a metric centimeter grid to mimic a seamstress's pattern cutting board. [In the shape of a dress, the] book is collaged with color copies of dress labels.”

Stone, Tamar. The Untitled Pink Corset Book. New York: Tamar Stone, 2000. Stone's book juxtaposes effusive copy from turn of the 20th century corset advertisements with the recollections of women forced to wear the uncomfortable devices. Consisting of five nested pink corsets, reading the text becomes a symbolic act of undressing and freeing the female body. The Bingham Center also holds Stone's papers with drafts and information about this book and her other corset books.

Domesticity

Love and Marriage by Nava AtlasAtlas, Nava.  Love and Marriage. Amberwood Press, 2008. This altered comic book rewrites the dialog to juxtapose present-day cultural obsessions with the visual culture of the 50s. The original advertisements have been left untouched as, according to the artist, their absurdity needs no embellishment.

Atlas, Nava. Secret Recipes for the Modern Wife. Amberwood Press, 2007. This satirical cookbook includes recipes such as Gender Role Casserole, Hyper Critical Raisin Role, and Souffle of Fallen Expectations.

Carmen, Carissa and Gretchen Hooker. Good Eats. Women’s Studio Workshop, 2005. The red casing holds a place setting and recipe cards which contemplate the intersection of food, family, place, and memory.

Kellner, Tatana. Iron. Women's Studio Workshop, 2008.In order to read the text—which traces the history of the eponymous apparatus—one must actually iron the pages.

O'Banion, Nance. Domestic Science. Flying Fish Press, 1990. Linoleum cut illustrations accompany an investigation of idioms, reading, and psychosocial experience.

Pirkle, Amy. Daily Bread. Perkolator Press, 2006. These foldout pages include illustrations relief printed from linoleum blocks.  The text explores the cultural associations of bread.

Quilting

Cash, Barbara, ed. Fragments. Sweden, ME: Ives Street Press, 1995. Seven women from rural Maine speak of memories associated with quilting. A quilt square, made ca. 1900, is incorporated in the binding of cloth over boards; in clam-shell box.

Cummins, Maureen. Crazy Quilt. Rosendale, NY: Women’s Studio Workshop, 1998. Text contains quotations from narratives written by fifteen women imprisoned for madness, including Kate Millett and Francis Farmer.

Kaufman, Margaret. Aunt Sallie’s Lament. West Burke, VT: Janus Press, c1988. According to the designer Claire Van Vliet, this accordion-bound book is “a poem that is the autobiography of a spinster quilter stitched with mutterings that accumulate as the cut pages are turned becoming a diamond quilt square.” We also hold a trade version published by Chronicle Books in 1993.

McPherson, Sandra. Beauty in Use. Newark, VT: Janus Press, c1997.
Poems inspired by McPherson’s collection of African-American quilts, illustrated by Claire Van Vliet with pages of interlocking papers to form two-sided quilt squares with sumptuous colors and kinetic geometry.

Wascher-James, Sande. How Long? Renton, WA: S. Wascher-James, 1993. Depicts women’s struggle for the vote through text, photographs, and quilt blocks. Text inspired by article on women’s suffrage by Minna Morse in The Smithsonian 1993.

Wascher-James, Sande. Every Man Needs a Woman. Newcastle, WA: S. Wascher-James, 1995. Twenty five squares in a quilt block ’snail’s trail’ pattern, using Liberty Lawn fabric, unfolding to 40 x 40 cm. Contains a text by an anonymous 19th-century male and reproductions of American stamps honoring women.

Family Relationships

Gaylord, Susan Kapuscinski. Childbirth Journey. Newburyport, MA: Notan Press, c1992.
“Artist's emotional journey through pregnancy, Caesarian birth, and new motherhood. Abstract charcoal drawings are combined with imagery created on the photocopier from natural objects and a calligraphic text based on her journal writings.”

Hamoy, Carol. Mothertalk: A Commentary on Non-Verbal Communication. ca. 2005.
An altered copy of Spoken Italian by Charles E. Kany and Charles Speroni (1946) with illustrations of mothers and children glued in, wrapped and interleaved with waxed paper (glued on) with brief text about the nuances of mothers’ gestures and expressions.

Larson, Jill. My Mother’s Coming to Town. Atlanta: Nexus Press, c1994.
A photographic collage that reflects the author’s mixed emotions about a visit from her mother, ending with an unexpected punch line.

Murray, Charlotte.  Dear Mom. C. Murray, 2005. 
This book features photographic reproductions of the artist's late mother punctuated by letters Murray and her sisters have written to her after her passing.

What's Happening With Momma by Clarissa SlighSligh, Clarissa T. What’s Happening with Momma? Rosendale, NY: Women’s Studio Workshop, c1988.  
A bookwork, consisting of one cardboard sheet accordion folded to form various views of a house, with a poem printed on accordion folded cards which unfold to form a stairway in front of the picture on each page.

Washington, Bisa. Promise Not to Tell. Rosendale, NY: Women’s Studio Workshop, 2007.
Spare narrative and silkscreen prints tell a personal history of child abuse and trauma.

Zanis, Liz.  Grandmaclock. Women's Studio Workshop, 2004. 
Constructed as a diminutive replica of a Grandmother clock, this sculptural interpretation of the book form relates anecdote regarding a grandmother and her clock.

Women's Health

Belloff, Mindy. The Excision. c1997.
Drawings on photographs mounted on Columbe handmade paper, with text laser printed on vellum, and stab binding.  “The self-portraits were taken after a surgical procedure on the artist's breast, and are combined with text from journal entries. The artist drew on the photographs as a way to come to terms with medical terminology, the new incision in her body, and the anxiety of the unknown.”

Fine, Diane. Beautiful Little Bird. Plattsburgh, NY: Moonkosh Press, 1999.
The author uses a bird motif and two handwritten journal entries to describe her emotions regarding the breast cancer and death of her sister.  Handbound in gold cloth with a small starburst inlay.

Martin, Emily. My Twelve Steps. Iowa City, IA: Naughty Dog Press, 1997.
“Twelve declarations, each beginning with the words "you can't," that draw a line in the sand and raise the speaker out of co-dependent patterns.”  Accordion-folded leaf forms a “staircase” when opened, displaying a different declaration on each “riser.  Case bound with flax and moriki paper.  String, wooden dowel, and buttons act as closure.

Michaelis, Catherine.  Stack the Deck:  Twenty-two Artists Mark the Cards for Women’s Health and Healing. Vashon, WA: May Day Press, c1999.

Deck of cards individually signed and numbered by artists including Julie Chen, Alisa Golden, Kim Gordon, Kim Newall, and Alice McKim.  The cards concern a variety of topics on women’s health, from chemotherapy to pregnancy to the experiences of female doctors.  Originally conceived as a “…project to raise money for artists and women with financial needs regarding health and healing.”

Wilson, Amy. Tea, C, D & C/cycles interrupted. Rosendale, NY: Women’s Studio Workshop, c1994.
Concerns the multiple abortions of the speaker in terms of emotional and physical reactions.

Sexuality

Cummins, Maureen. Femmes Fatales. Brooklyn, NY, 2001. Images of seductive women are juxtaposed with names of torture devices in a Victorian-style photograph album.

Gaulke, Cheryl and Sue Maberry. Marriage Matters, 2005. Gaulke and Maberry invited 10 lesbian and gay couples to go to Sears and have their portraits taken. These families reflect on the question “when your relationship is not legally recognized, what does marriage matter?” The materials used evoke wedding invitations and with the alternating vertical and horizontal pages splayed open, the book’s shape resembles a two-tiered wedding cake.

Jacobs, Diane. Alphabet Tricks. Rosendale, NY: Scantron Press, 2000.  An alphabet book of sexist language about women. Book consists of 15 printed cards which slide into transparent paper sleeves silk-screened with illustrations.

Lee, Su-Jung. Lovelines in the Nineties: A Book. Atlanta: Nexus Press, 2000.

Rindl, Deb. Seeds of Desire. London, 1998. Contains seeds which can be reached only by cutting bellows-folded paper enclosure mounted within boards, on the lower of which is printed text concerning female genital mutilation. 

Schaer, Miriam. How Do You Compare?: Excerpts from Selected Sex Surveys. Brooklyn, NY, 1996. This striking artist's book is made from a bustier bra silk painted purple and adorned with compasses. The pages of text are painted with illustrations and collaged with snippets from sex surveys.

Som, Indigo. He Likes You. Berkeley: Bitchy Buddha Press, c1996. Work consists of three different sized folded paper "fortune tellers."