Book artist Tia Blassingame founded The Book/Print Artists/Scholars of Color Collective to build community and collaborations with BIPOC book/print practitioners and scholars. The Collective represents a growing community of more than twenty book artists, scholars, librarians, papermakers, letterpress printers, printmakers, and curators. All are passionate about book history, print culture, and the endless potential of artists' books as vehicles of social change and cultural conveyors that uplift our communities, and tell our stories, histories.
This is the first in a series of three events generously funded by David Solo featuring presentations and discussions by Collective members. In this session, four members of the collective will share their artwork and scholarship. Presenters and their topics are:
Tia Blassingame will discuss representing Blackness in artists' books. A book artist and printmaker exploring the intersection of race, history, and perception, Blassingame often incorporates archival research and her own poetry in her artist’s book projects for nuanced discussions of racism in the United States. Her artist's books are held in library and museum collections including Library of Congress, Stanford University, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, and State Library of Queensland. Blassingame is an Assistant Professor of Art at Scripps College and serves as the Director of Scripps College Press.
Ashley Hairston Dougherty: Her talk will be an examination of personal identity through book arts and visual narratives. Doughty is a visual storyteller, explaining personal experiences through verbal and visual language. Much of her practice deals with socio-economic, racial, and gender-based issues, particularly those relating to cultural misconceptions and the development of personal identity. Although trained as a graphic designer, Doughty’s artwork often crosses multiple media, including typography, illustration, writing, fiber and materials, and book arts. She shares and encourages such art-making as an Assistant Professor of Art at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and through her design studio, Design Kettle. Doughty’s work is included in the Joan Flasch Artists’ Book Collection in Chicago and has received awards from the Caxton Club, the College Book Arts Association, and Arion Press.
Kinohi Nishikawa will offer a brief discussion of the folds, seams, and edges of contemporary Black book arts, with a particular focus on work by Tia Blassingame and Yolanda Wisher. His talk will attend to the object's turning points as an important aspect of thinking critically about race in the present moment. Nishikawa is Associate Professor of English and African American Studies at Princeton University. His book Street Players: Black Pulp Fiction and the Making of a Literary Underground was published by the University of Chicago Press in 2018. He is currently at work on Black Paratext, a study of how book design has shaped modern African American literature.
Curtis Small will discuss "Reading danger” in Black women’s artists’ books, with a focus on work by Clarissa Sligh and Tia Blassingame. Small is a librarian and coordinator of public services for the special collections department at the University of Delaware Library. In this position, he coordinates the reference, instruction and exhibition programs, and also serves as a curator for the rare book collections. In 2017, Curtis curated the exhibition Issues and Debates in African American Literature at UD Library. In 2019, he was a co-organizer of the Black Bibliographia conference, also at the University of Delaware. As a proud team member of the Colored Conventions Project, Curtis works on permissions and outreach. He has also done scholarly research on the print history of the Colored Conventions Movement and the importance of Haiti within the movement. Curtis also works to increase racial diversity among professionals in the fields of archives and Special Collections. He holds a PhD in French from New York University and an MLIS degree from the School of Library and Information Science at Simmons University.
Image credit: Tia Blassingame. COLORED: A HANDBOOK. 2020, handmade, persimmon-dyed paste paper, letterpress and digital printing, original poetry, persimmon-dyed wooden container, 5.5 x 8 inches, 20 copies.