The Arizona State Library Distinctive Collections currently houses more than 150 woodcuts, artists’ books, and small press books from Brazil. In the exhibit Shoestring Productions: Brazilian Storytelling through Contemporary Woodcuts, Artists’ Books, and Small Press Books (1997-2021), the ASU Library is highlighting a small part of this collection to feature the work of storytellers who use their hands to bring forth narratives about modern life in Brazil. Featured here are woodblock engravers, printers, seamsters, collage artists, and poets.
The books featured here are a mixture of handmade and small-run productions that draw together illustration and poetry. Handmade books have had a place in popular culture in Brazil since the 16th century, and they continue to play an important role today. As artists’ books, they often combine the literary with the visual arts and place an emphasis on integrating illustrations into their narratives.
The artists featured in the ASU Library exhibit use a variety of techniques to hand print and hand sew the books. Modern books often incorporate photocopy and collage technology as well as thread, dried flowers, and various other objects embedded in the paper. Some of the artists use skills that they may have learned from relatives or from working as carpenters, brick makers, potters, and printers, whereas others trained in MFA programs in Brazil, and the exhibit showcases a wide range of both traditional and innovative methods for making and appreciating paper and book forms.
In conjunction with the exhibit in the Design and the Arts Library at Arizona State University we have published a small booklet that discusses the current exhibit, the ASU collection more broadly, and the history of artists' books in Brazil. The booklet features essays by the exhibit curator, Dr. Seonaid Valiant, Dr. Suzanne M. Schadl, the Chief of the Latin American, Caribbean, and European Division at the Library of Congress, and Zaellotius Wilson, who is pursuing her doctoral degree in the Design, Environments, and the Arts program at Arizona State University.
The exhibit runs in the Design and the Arts Library lobby during library hours from November 21, 2021 to Dec 9th, 2021.
The ASU Library acknowledges the twenty-three Native Nations that have inhabited this land for centuries. Arizona State University's four campuses are located in the Salt River Valley on ancestral territories of Indigenous peoples, including the Akimel O’odham (Pima) and Pee Posh (Maricopa) Indian Communities, whose care and keeping of these lands allows us to be here today. ASU Library acknowledges the sovereignty of these nations and seeks to foster an environment of success and possibility for Native American students and patrons. We are advocates for the incorporation of Indigenous knowledge systems and research methodologies within contemporary library practice. ASU Library welcomes members of the Akimel O’odham and Pee Posh, and all Native nations to the Library.