published Thursday, March 27th, 2014

Hunter's 'Preface' reveals surprising contents of artists' books - March 28-June 15

"Ordinary Discovery" by Nicole Eiland
"Ordinary Discovery" by Nicole Eiland


■ What: "Preface: An Introduction to Artists' Books."

■ When: Friday, March 28-Sunday, June 15.

■ Where: Hunter Museum of American Art, 10 Bluff View.

■ Admission: $9.95 adults, $4.95 children.

■ Phone: 423-267-0968.

■ Website:

Artists' books, simply put, are books created by artists. But once beyond that simple definition, things get trickier, say organizers of a new exhibit at the Hunter Museum of American Art. Contemporary artists have carried the idea of books far beyond the traditional form of a spine, cover, inside pages and the written word.

"Preface: An Introduction to Artists' Books," which will run Friday, March 28, through Sunday, June 15, will offer a small sampling of how contemporary artists are transforming books.

■ "Ordinary Discovery," above, finds Nicole Eiland partially abandoning paper. While some pages are photographs of fruit, other pages are the fruits themselves, pressed into a flat, paper-like form, so the book has a wonderful scent as well as a beautiful visual appeal. Eiland says her goal was to bring attention to the unnoticed beauty in ordinary things.

"Anxiety Alphabet" by Emily Martin
"Anxiety Alphabet" by Emily Martin
Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

■ "The Anxiety Alphabet," left, by Emily Martin looks like a regular book, but the artist has placed pins into the cover of the book to embody a sense of dread. The book narrative lists anxiety-inducing activities for each letter of the alphabet.

■ "Smoke," right, by Amy Pirkle looks like a pack of cigarettes. The "smokes" inside the cigarette pack are actually small scrolls of paper on which she has written memories of her grandfather, who died of lung cancer.

The works in this exhibition are drawn from the W.S. Hoole Special Collections Library at the University of Alabama. The collection supports the university's MFA Program in the Book Arts, one of the leading centers for book arts in the country.

During the run of the exhibit, former Hunter chief curator Ellen Simak and book artists Hollie Berry and Juanita Tumelaire will offer a presentation at 3 p.m. May 18 for International Art Museum Day.

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