In 2005, Norah Lovell began offering courses in handmade books at the University of New Mexico-Taos.
The courses, according to a press release, were so popular that she taught them for five semesters over the following two years. When Lovell left Taos in 2007, the students who had been in her classes were firmly committed to pursuing their interest in making books and sharing them with one another.
That legacy is furthered in an exhibition titled “Uncovered Too: Handmade Books by Taos Artists” that opened Friday (Aug. 2) at la Hacienda los Martínez, 708 Hacienda Road, off Lower Ranchitos in Taos. The Hacienda is one of the cultural institutions under the Taos Historic Museums umbrella.
The show, which continues through Sept. 22, was organized by Taos artist Carol Farmer who is also one of the participating book-makers.
Following its inception, the Taos Book Arts Group has developed with the purpose of sharing members’ work, learning new techniques from one another, and exhibiting their work.
Six years later, the core group and many others who have joined in the interim, continue to gather on the third Tuesday of every month in the Alcalde Room at the Harwood Museum of Art (at 238 Ledoux St.). Members of the group have a wide range of artistic interests including printmaking, drawing, painting, photography, fiber arts, poetry and sculpture.
The artists included in the show are Carolyn Hinske, Robbie Steinbach, Sandra Williams, Gail Goodwin, Joy Purcell, Jamie Ash, Kaylynn Twotrees, Julie Wagner, Carol Farmer, Linda Gottlieb, Sara Jean Gray, Maggi Younger, Nancy Henderson, and B.R. Conley.
The group has no dues, few rules and is said to offer “a nurturing and supportive environment to anyone who would like to join or just attend a meeting,” a prepared statement reads.
Historically, the tradition in book creation may be assumed to have always followed the traditional design of a cover with uniform pages, but in fact it has always embraced a path of experimentation and innovation in design and concept — something that has enjoyed a particular rediscovery in recent times.
“Nurturing this resurgence of interest in the handmade book, colleges and universities throughout the country are developing and expanding their book arts curriculums,” the Taos Historic Museums press release continues. “To meet the growing demand, Santa Fe Community College has recently expanded its curriculum and established a Center for Book Art and Printmaking in New Mexico. Meanwhile, Book Arts groups in Taos, Santa Fe and Albuquerque offer members a chance to attend workshops with nationally recognized book artists and to share new techniques and projects.
For more information on specific meetings of the Taos group, check the Harwood website at harwoodmuseum.org.
Taos Historic Museums wishes to acknowledge, Steven M. Pettit, Curator of Collections, Albuquerque Museum for his help with the installation of this year’s exhibit.