The Hybrid Book

Two exhibitions, The Hybrid Book: Irma Boom, Gunnar A. Kaldewey, Hedi Kyle and Art To Be Read: MFA Book Arts/Printmaking Alumni, supported and explored the focus of the conference. The exhibitions ran June 2-30, 2009 in galleries at the University of the Arts; each was accompanied by a catalog. To purchase either catalog ($25), email

THE HYBRID BOOK: Irma Boom, Gunnar A. Kaldewey, and Hedi Kyle

This exhibition brings together the work of three artists who together exemplify the concept of the book as a hybrid medium, a medium that incorporates and draws on design, typography, text, image, printmaking, papermaking and bookbinding, and is time-based, three-dimensionally structured and reader-activated. All three artists whose works make up this exhibition have international status, but they tend to be known in different areas. Each has contributed significantly to book art.

Irma Boom is one of the most prominent book designers in Europe, winner of, among many other honors, the prestigious Gutenberg Prize for her complete oeuvre. She plays at the edge of design, creating works that often unbalance the reader, realizing new incarnations of the book. In 1991 she founded Irma Boom Office, which works nationally and internationally in both the cultural and commercial sectors. Since 1992 she has taught at Yale University.

Gunnar Kaldewey is an artist for whom craft and art are indistinguishable, who frequently collaborates with other artists, and whose subject is often literature from various, and exceedingly different, countries and eras. He combines a love of language, materials, and mark making. His work has been widely collected and shown at over a hundred prominent museums, galleries, and libraries around the world.

Hedi Kyle has a profound knowledge of book conservation—she was Head Conservator at the American Philosophical Society for seventeen years—and a wildly imaginative approach to book structure. She approaches books as architecture and is an inventor of structural forms. She is internationally known for her teaching and workshops. Her book structures have been seminal, significantly influencing the field of artists’ books.

Buzz Spector, the important artist, critical writer and Dean, College and Graduate School of Art, Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, Washington University in St. Louis, MO, wrote the critical essay for the exhibition’s catalog.

ART TO BE READ: MFA Book Arts/Printmaking Alumni Exhibition

On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Program, this exhibition brings together over fifty recent, post-graduate, art works by alumni, who are now active practitioners of book and related art across the United States and around the world. The exhibition not only includes artists’ books, in which text and image have a complex relationship and materials and structure participate in content, but also prints, sculptures, and installations that partake of aspects of book art. The show was juried by Mindell Dubansky and Clarissa Sligh.

Mindell Dubansky is Preservation Librarian at Metropolitan Museum of Art and is a critical writer, curator, and book artist. Clarissa Sligh is a prominent photographer, installation artist, and book artist, whose work is widely collected and who has received numerous grants and awards.

Susan Viguers, Director of the MFA Book Arts/Printmaking Program at The University of the Arts, has written the critical essay for the exhibition’s catalog.