Gallery Walk: Hidden Gems from the Dartmouth Book Arts Workshop

by Habib Sabet | 4/20/18 2:20am

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by Evan Morgan / The Dartmouth

The newest exhibition at the Black Family Visual Arts Center presents an array of works students have produced over the years at the Book Arts Workshop, tucked away in the basement of Baker-Berry Library.

“Undiscovered Pages: Hidden Gems from the Dartmouth Book Arts Workshop,” currently on display in the BVAC’s student gallery, features pieces created in the workshop over the past decade that have, up until now, been unavailable for public consumption. Book arts workshops and classes allow patrons to use modern and traditional techniques of typography, bookbinding and poster-making, providing a unique intersection of the artistic and the historical.

Evan Morgan

The space is run by Sarah Smith, who, along with several other faculty members, teaches class and hosts the workshops that produced most of the gallery’s contents.

“Book arts bridges a bunch of different disciplines,” Smith said. “You have the aspect of sculpture and printing, but you also have photographers getting involved in it and graphic designers. There are also these other disciplines, like geography — people do things with maps all the time — and many other fields.”

The broad scope of book arts allows participants to approach the creative process in different ways.

“Some people approach it from more of a historical point of view, with specific interest in how things used to be done, and then others are more about doing a completely new and more modern thing,” Smith said.

Accordingly, the gallery features a wide variety of works that span multiple media, styles and themes. One piece, created by Charlotte Nutt ’19 in 2016, is a flip book that folds outwards and incorporates collage and print to represent the evolution of New England’s topography over millions of years. Nutt created the forearm-length volume as the culminating project of a class she took at the workshop.

“I’m an earth sciences major, and at the time I was learning about the geological history of the area, so I wanted to incorporate that,” Nutt said. “To me, the geology impacts the ecological nature of this place so much, and that’s so relevant to the culture. As you turn the pages, you go through geological time and [it] presents the different events that have built the landscape.”

When the book is completely unfolded, it reveals the phrase “Nothing Gold Can Stay,” the title of a Robert Frost poem, in gold letters. Nutt views the quote and the poem at large as an expression of optimism.

“There will always be new mountain ranges and geological evolution,” she said. “Even when there’s destruction of a landscape, something new will be formed again.”

Other works in the exhibition are grounded in the political and contemporary.

As the final project of his first-year seminar, Michael Harteveldt ’19 sought to create a politically charged piece in response to the 2016 presidential campaign of Donald Trump. The result was “Mass Media in Democracy.” Harteveldt’s poster incorporates printing and stamping, imposing the words “We’ve Created a Monster” over a checkerboard pattern of Trump’s face.

“I wanted to focus on how much free media attention Trump got during the election and how that influenced his campaign,” Harteveldt said. The class centered on the ways in which media influences democracy, and Harteveldt said he wanted to draw a parallel to the contemporary political climate.

“With my poster, I was trying to present how we as the public and a media-consuming democracy had fueled that fire,” he said. “I was playing on this idea that we as the consumer and the media were contributing to his campaign and later his election.”

The works of Nutt and Harteveldt are two of over thirty works produced in the Book Arts Studio. “Undiscovered Pages,” sponsored by the Leslie Center for Humanities and the Class of 1960, began on April 9 and will run until May 12.