Walter Hamady, born in Flint, Michigan, of a Lebanese father and an American mother in 1940, graduated from Wayne State University and Cranbrook Academy. Since 1964, he has run Perishable Press, where he published intricate, inventive small-edition books. He has often referred to books as “the Trojan Horse of art,” thinking of the way they sneak artistic ideas into a familiar format that can be handled with ease.
Hamady is a pivotal figure in book arts; he helped the art world to perceive the book in a new perspective. His books are humorous, inventive and interactive works of art. I will be delving into Walter’s poking entertainment and innovation – specifically in his fifth Gabberjabb; he challenges conventional ideas about the structure and function of books. For this purpose, I further investigated his satirical behavior and ingenious complexity.
Upon looking through Hamady’s Gabberjabb #5, I was immersed with its personality, this book was given life… he called attention to the art of the book itself having been printed, perforated, drawn, cut, stamped, collaged, taped, embossed, grommeted, signed, notarized, numbered, notched, torn, and bitten. Flipping through pages I noticed the endnotes at the end of words. Any scholar, I would presume, would automatically think, “a source?” Puzzled, I searched for these “sources” to finally stumble upon a manila book pocket with the silhouette of a man’s side profile collaged by a postcard. Inside this pocket, contained a small pamphlet titled,
I let out a soft chuckle in the reading room realizing the pun Hamady left for his spectators. Footnotes.
I returned to the very beginning of the Gabberjabb while constantly referring to the footnotes at my side. Travelling through, I could not help but laugh or smile a bit. Truthfully, I was having a conversation with this book. These notes reflected his own voice, it was almost like speaking with Walter Hamady himself.
“the Druze call it THE FORCE114” followed with the footnote, “Preceeds Star Wars. See ftN Forty-SiX through Seventy.”
“Copyright 1981 by Walter Samuel Hätoum Hamady” had a finger pointing to his name with the number 103, the note reads as follows: “(SEE: 38, 42, 47 & 95) My father once told me that in the old country, Hamady is a common name and has 5 branches; this one is ours.” Hamady settled in Wisconsin in 1966, he is a midwestern artist with roots in the Levant; hence, Walter Semi-Hittite Hamady or (WshH), one of several phrases of his name – Walter Samuel Hätoum Hamady.
The numbers mentioned are of other footnotes mentioned in the Gabberjabbs; unfortunately, I was incapable of observing his entire six volume series. There is a sense of poking fun and frustration given the reader’s willingness to find these notes Hamady suggests.
He adopted a narrative mode associated with scholarly essays; Hamady loved footnotes so, provided they are, in his view worthwhile. Numerous scholars would presume footnotes to be “offensive” as the notes can be “trivializing the text” and hence, a “waste of time.” Nonetheless, Hamady’s notes are pleasurable to read given that they are fundamentally, another story in themselves.
Along my journey of the Gabberjabb I noticed how he played with text. There were misspellings, fascinating punctuation, bolds, italics, capitalization, and so on and so forth. If one is willing to preserve, there are wonderful discoveries to be made. The mood of the book progresses. Reaching near the end of Gabberjabb #5, I took notice of a small alteration to the word “ibid”. It began with footnote *23, a personal reflection he stated. The play on words proceeded to various modifications: “*25 “ (you bite Maybe , “*28 “ It bit Need period after word me.”, “*29 “ tid Bit ColopHaperPun.”, “*30 “ tit bite.” Inside my head I would respond to each note thinking how much is that, what bit, is this a tid bit, and tit bite? The legibility and illegibility act on the pleasure and instruction of the book. There is an equal distribution between the printer and the writer.
There is a continuous disruption of extensive notes produced in the chronology of the text which generates a positive parallel in Hamady’s view – where the footnote is pushed as far as it can, or perhaps ought to, go, and yet he encourages his reader to follow his footsteps as the series moves forward.
May the dedicated reader, forewarned, wait with interest and some apprehension to see what will emerge from Walter Hamady’s Gabberjabbs.
Intimate qualities flow from Hamady’s worldview, one that necessarily sustains and is shaped by his manner of making art. Many artists cite an “art is life, life is art” philosophy, but Hamady’s output contradicts this otherwise. Whether in multifaceted anatomy of his books, construction of his assemblages or arrangements of his collages. Hamady’s work is intensely personal, bears his aura, and incorporates his experiences. Rather than enclosing out the viewer, these qualities only serve to draw us in, encouraging close looking and contemplation and affecting all the senses.
“The book, is perhaps the most personal form an artist can deal with. It encompasses a multiple and sequential picture plane, it is tactile, and to be understood, it must be handled by the viewer, who then becomes a participant.” - Walter Hamady
Behrens, Roy. “The Gift of Gabberjabbs.” Print, vol. 51, no. 1, 1997, pp. 64–71
Derrida, Jacques. “Living on.” Deconstruction & Criticism. New York: Continuum, 1979, pp. 75
Hamady, Walter. For the Hundredth Time &Quot;Gaebboerjabb Number (5) Five&Quot; : 12
&Amp; 17 November 1980 : Journal Liftings. Perishable Press, 1981.
Lydon, Mary. "The Trojan Horse of Art: Walter Hamady, the Perishable Press Limited and "Gabberjabbs 1-6"." Visible Language, vol. 25, no. 2, 1991, pp. 151. ProQuest.
Alisa Banks is a full time visual artist whose work confronts memory, tradition, and notions of home, place and self. Growing up as a black woman in the 60’s and 70’s, Banks work often incorporates fibers materials and found objects that reflect on personal experiences, and cross-cultural tones of intolerance during that time period. Banks received her BS from Oklahoma State University and later her MFA from Texas Woman’s University. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, and is in several private and public collections. Currently Banks resides in Dallas, Texas.
Cotton, doilies, wood, silk and synthetic hair are all materials Alisa Banks interlaces within and throughout books, transforming them into meticulously crafted, intimate sculptural objects. Underlying themes of identity and cultural memories are commonly explored through Banks’ repurposed books. In a series of work titled “Edges”, the artist elaborately crochets synthetic hair to the edges of each page of the book. Presented open faced the transformed book resembles a half circle, embodying a gravity defying, frizz prone, African hairstyle. The series of four books presents four different hairstyles of traditional African braiding techniques. The hair fibers create textures against the pages while simultaneously embellishing the edges of the pages symbolizing “ the marginal, the end, the between, and duality.” Banks states, “the hair treatment symbolizes how much activity, creativity, and life happens at the ‘edges’ of mainstream society, regardless of whether or not it is recognized…” Growing up during a time period of racial integration, Banks edge series captures the tones of intolerance faced during the 60’s and 70’s and even today when regarding immigration status.
Continuing on her research about the manner in which black hair has been politicized throughout history, Banks creates an altered book entitled “Bad Hair”. She uses an old Texas Law book but alters the interior creating a flag book. Conceptually, the flags mimic locs or braids and their unruly aesthetic as perceived by white dominated workplaces. For many women in the 60’s and 70’s natural African hairstyles were unacceptable for work environments and even regarded as unprofessional. The text within the book was taken from news articles found from research on early struggles black women’s hair.
Banks southern Louisiana upbringing influences many of her decisions to use certain materials. One of her sculptural books- “Our Lady of the Lawn”- takes on the form of a homemade shrine and garden that were typical in homes throughout southern Louisiana where Madonna statues adorned many lawns. Banks uses crocheted lace, beaded rosary and medallions throughout the shrine to reference the histories of the shrines and the objects found along them. Inside the shrine is a fragment of a story written by the artist.
Similar in style is Banks’s book entitled “Armoire”. Here she crafts a small scale Armoire closet using a wooden box containing intimate items like photographs, fragments of texts, and partial clothing materials. Reflecting on her childhood memories Banks recalls the exhilarating feeling of exploring her grandmother’s armoire and learning the stories of the personal objects found inside. Closets in most cases are intimate spaces, commonly off limits, but full of memories while revealing something about its owner. To Banks, the armoire “remains a repository of memory, culture, history, and tradition.”
“A Bee Press- Alisa Banks.” Primrose Press, www.vampandtramp.com/finepress/b/A-Bee-Press.html.
“VCU News.” VCU Forensic Toxicologist's Work in Helping Solve Bizarre Death to Be Featured on National Forensics Television Show, news.vcu.edu/article/More_than_words.
“About Alisa Banks.” Alisa Banks, www.alisabanks.com/about-the-artist/.
"Alisa Banks- The Edge Series." Abecedarian Gallery, abecedariangallery.com/store/reviews/2012/12/14/alisa-banks-the-edge-series/.
ManagedArtwork.com. “Alisa Banks.” Http://Www.seagergray.com/ - Richard Shaw - Artists Detail, www.seagergray.com/Artist-Info.cfm?ArtistsID=521.
Jose Ulises Heredia
Some of the first examples of interactive art can be dated back to the 1920s. This is an art form that needs the spectator in order to achieve its purpose or fullest potential. Interactive art continues to grow and evolve rapidly, gaining attention from numerous museums, venues, and urban installations as they integrate the genre into their collections in greater numbers. On the other hand, art books date back to the Medieval Period. Although practiced for generations, art books found the ancestor of their true form in the works of William Blake, who set the tone for later artists’ books by merging handwritten text and images. Nowadays, an art book could be anything- a traditional book of poems, a braid of hair, different types of sand, or even microscopic experimentations and their findings. If we merge interactive art with an art book, the result elevates its component parts to a new, higher form. Such an example lies in the book “My 9 Migraine Cures” by Ann Kalmbach and Tatana Kellner, which I came across while experiencing the Special Collections at Arizona State University’s Hayden Library.
“My 9 Migraine Cures” is a KAKE action book from the year 1987. The artists Ann Kalmbach and Tatana Kellner created the acronym “KaKe” by combining their last names, as Kellner has been Kalmbach’s longtime collaborator in the art bookmaking process. Ann Kalmbach is currently the Women’s Studio Workshop Executive Director, possessing a Masters of Fine Arts from Rochester Institute of Technology, along with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts from SUNY New Paltz. She has served as artist in residence at the Visual Studies Workshop, the University of Southern Maine, and the MacDowell Colony. Her involvement and interest in artists’ books extends beyond the personal, as she has helped hundreds of artists in the creation of portfolios and art books of their own.
Coming across “My 9 Migraine Cures” in the Special Collection, I was initially drawn to its unique cover. Bearing the dark, high contrast image of a young woman and a peculiar selection of font made me open it and discover its interactive nature. I found it very smart the way the artist was able to manipulate paper with printed imagery as a means for giving instruction to interactivity through simple hints. For example, simple arrows or wording with instructions placed strategically alongside or near manipulative elements of the page drew the user’s attention to the interactive elements. The pages’ text, a childish, somewhat creepy handwriting-style font made the experience at times almost unsettling. The content of the book itself was simple- dark, scary even, with a focus on the cerebral or mental. In this way, the book reminded me of the way in which art books, especially interactive art books, can be a powerful tool in opening up topics otherwise taboo or uncomfortable such as mental health. At that moment, I was able to make an even deeper connection. As an artist, I have also addressed the topic of mental health through dark components and interactivity through other means such as music recordings. Likewise, as mental health is a topic of continual exploration and understanding, so too are the genres of artbooks and interactive art continually expanding and changing, offering new ways to help those who experience them.
Kalmbach, A., & Kellner, T. (1987). My 9 migraine cures. Rochester, NY: Visual Studies Workshop.
By: Elizabeth Z Pineda
“My interest is interlinearity, this ‘in-between’, the portion of knowledge and the world that we ignore or omit, or consider negative space — the pause in a sentence, the gesture before the act, the twilight between two portions of the day.” Robbin Ami Silverberg
Robbin Amy Silverberg is an artist working in Papermaking, Book Arts, and Installation art. Silverberg is the founding director of Dobbin Mill and Dobbin Books, a hand-made papermaking studio and a collaborative studio working in artists books, respectively. Silverberg has been an instructor for papermaking/artist books at the Center for Book Arts, NYC since 1986, and is Associate Professor for “Art of the Book” at Pratt Art Institute, NYC since 2002.[i]She has published extensively and her work has been exhibited in numerous countries around the world. Dobbin Books publishes 5-10 editions of small artist books yearly. They are either collaborations with artists and/or writers from other countries, as well as from the US and/or solo works by Silverberg.
Conceptually her work focuses on thought and analysis of words and the function of inserted text in lines already written and or printed. This use of text is one of the most visually astonishing things in Silverberg’s work. There is a formality created by the constantly repeating words. An incessant voice telling the viewer a story. The narrative is captivating as it is elusive. The text can either be multiplied over and over, wrapped around objects, and or simply be a single word crafted out of hair and embedded in an object.
However, this is not the only absorbing part of her work. She places equal attention to the entire process of her craft, beginning with the paper she uses and thinks of its function not only as substrate but as an active part of the work.[ii]This is true whether it is her own book or any other work published at Dobbin Books. They are books which explore a wide scope of themes ranging from issues of identity, memory, loss, life, and death. They are also about women’s issues, their voices, and value. Historical themes dealing with war and the Holocaust, literature, and reflections on the self are also present in her work. These themes are approached in an almost obsessive way, with Silverberg deciding with strict detail on every part of the process, from its design, structure, the materials that will be used in the making of the handmade paper, to the final crafting of the book form.
A few titles of books which stood out to me are;Detritus, Home Sweet Home, Proverbial Threads, Testament Patriarch, Dusters, Safer-Code, andJust 30 Words. It was difficult to make selections but I’ve selected these works because I found each moving in a unique way. Detritusis a work about 9/11. The artist states that two weeks after 9/11 she entered “Ground Zero to check if the Ampersand Foundation’s apartment still existed. I walked amongst the abandoned buildings covered in thick layers of dust, with trees covered in paper detritus as if they had genetically altered leaves.I grabbed some of these papers and some handfuls of the powder; much later I made paper with pulp filled with these remains, along with ripped up maps of New York City.” Detritusis a series of five different books in which the artist is trying to understand life in her hometown after the horrific event. Home Sweet Home, Proverbial Threads, and Testament Patriarch are all books that deal with women, how they are viewed, valued, and their perceived roles in society. About Home Sweet Homeshe says that she "'designed' an architectural album of an imaginary middle-class suburban house, filling its plans and layout with the many proverbs I've found about woman in the home.”[iii]Dustersis part of a series of books that was born from the artist’s discovery in Kyoto, Japan of a duster made from a block-printed book. This inspired her to create works in which she is thinking of common objects and how to create text that speaks of the transformation of the object to a book form and the duality which it presents. She has created several works in the form of dusters, dust pans, brushes, hand mirrors, etc. since 1998.[iv]In Safer-Codethe artist cut into a copy of Jonathan Safran Foer’s Tree of Codesillustrating her interest in the “interlinearity” of text, the pause and act of words, the empty space. Just 30 Words is a book with the following description:
Postcards have been found that were written by deported Hungarian Jews to their relatives from Auschwitz, dictated by SS officers. Rules for responding correspondence can be found on the front: “Answer only on a postcard, (maximum 30 words), in German via the Hungarian Jewish Association. 12 Sip Street, Budapest, VII.”[v]
Silverberg was originally trained as a sculptor in the late 1970’s[vi]and learned bookbinding in Vienna in the early 1980‘s which is when she started making artists books. The way each project is produced and executed vary from one to the other. However, the one thing constant to each work produced by Dobbin Books is the use of the paper made at Dobbin Mill, giving each a unique quality and definitive look to the creation of works by Dobbin Books.
[i]Silverberg, Robbin Amy. Web. 02 October, 2018. http://robbinamisilverberg.com/biocv/
[ii]Silverberg, Robbin Amy. Web. 02 October, 2018. http://robbinamisilverberg.com/dobbin-books-dobbin-mill/
[iii]World Catalogue. 12 November, 2018. Web. http://www.worldcat.org/title/home-sweet-home/oclc/122777513
[iv]Silverberg, Robbin Amy. Web. 12 November, 2018. Artist Statement.
[v]Silverberg, Robbin Amy. Web. 01 November, 2018. http://robbinamisilverberg.com/artwork/editions/just-30-words-interlineary/
[vi]Andrew, Jason. Walt Street Journal. 11 November, 2018. Web. https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748704644404575481781993126388
Walter Hamady, born in 1940, attended the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan as an undergraduate and founded his own press - The Perishable Press Limited - in 1964. Two years later he established the Shadwell Papermill and began exploring the creation and usage of handmade paper. Since its inauguration, The Perishable Press name is credited with designing and publishing over 131 titles by numerous authors and visual artists(1). I will be discussing one of Hamady’s personal works, the Interminable Gabberjabbs series.
I had the opportunity this past week to visit ASU’s Special Collections and take notes on Hamady’s fifth book in the series, For the Hundredth Time Gabberjabb Number Five. (Due to the signing of an honor agreement, I cannot post the pictures I took. These images were found online.) Hamady is an accomplished poet, creating a sense of flow and unusual softness through his use of syntax and embellishment to even the simple prose that follows along the actual poems in the book. What struck me the most about the Gabberjabb series is how Hamady ignores the traditional rules we as readers have come to expect from codex-form books, particularly in his use of structure and language. Hamady’s Gabberjabbs have been described as a game of “Hunt the Footnote”(2), and upon viewing Gabberjabb Number Five(3) I found this to be more true than I could have anticipated. Housed in the second to last page of the book is a library card folder with a small pamphlet-stitched booklet boasting the title “👣NOTES”(4) that serves as an accompanying reading guide.
Gabberjab Five(6) contains 43 unique footnotes (numbered from “97²” to “140”, which is followed by a letterpressed STOP sign on the backside of the booklet) sprinkled throughout its text that truly embellish the reading experience. In one hand I held the booklet while with the other I flipped the pages of the book itself. Normally when I read text with footnotes - often academic papers of some kind - I read the whole page first and then view the footnotes second, but this book genuinely might have changed the way I read from now on. Hamady’s wild treasure map of a book structure forces the reader to remember that “[p]leasurable mystery of pre-literacy,”(7) that childhood-like experience of trying to make sense of the mess of symbols in front of us. It was refreshing, and having to think through every page that I read made me appreciate the content and Hamady’s artistic vision all the more.
The other aspect of Hamady’s Gabberjabbs that had me enamored from the beginning was the fact that, in these texts, spelling, punctuation, and capitalization follow the rules of prose at their own leisure. When Hamady mentions meeting the “General Sturgeon,” or over the course of ten footnotes makes the slow change from “Ibid.” to “tit bite,” there’s a sense of playfulness that just makes you smile as you’re reading. His dismissal of textual conventions isn’t solely for humor, though; in an odd way, it emphasizes the very specific emotions that his works manage to convey. Capitalizing several Words in a Phrase makes you take just a moment longer to savor each of them, and ov coarse 2 spell a word rong in th 1st place is a very purposeful statement that affects how you pronounce it in your mind as you read. ‘Incorrect’ text is just as important as ‘correct’ text is when it comes to conveying emotions, personal thoughts, and broad concepts, and Hamady’s Gaggerblab Five truly calls to attention how textual forms can affect the content they choose to portray. I had already been inspired by the few images of Hamady’s works that I could find online and the articles in journals praising his unique bookforms, but after seeing it in person, I’m more awed than ever by how he works and by how successful it really is.
(1) “Walter Hamady.” Wikipedia, 30 July 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walter_Hamady. Accessed 8 Nov. 2018.
(2) Lyndon, Mary. “The Trojan Horse of Art: Walter Hamady, The Perishable Press Limited and ‘Gabberjabbs 1-6’.” Visible Language, vol. 25, iss. 2, 1991, https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy1.lib.asu.edu/docview/1297966346?accountid=4485&rfr_id=info%3Axri%2Fsid%3Aprimo. Accessed 7 Nov. 2018.
(3) A shortened form of the full title previously stated, For the Hundredth Time Gabberjabb Number Five, for purposes of readability and, to be quite honest, as an excuse from the author to continue to use the word “Gabberjab” in an academic report.
(4) Approximated; in the real book, the ftNode(5) booklet is inscribed with a letterpressed symbol of Hermes’ winged sandal, followed by the word NOTES.
(6) Apologies; another shortened title. For intents of this report, For the Hundredth Time Gabberjabb Number Five will hereafter be referred to by varying versions of its title, including but not limited to Gabberjab Number Five; Gabberjab Five; Walter Hamady’s fifth Gabberjab; Gabberblab Five the Fifth One, etc. At the reader’s discretion, to what I am referring should be instinctive.
(7) Lyndon, Mary.
by Cheyenne L. Black
Hedi Kyle is a German-American artist who specializes in folded book structures. Her work has become something of a mainstay in the book arts community as she has given artists such structures as the Flag Book, the Blizzard Book, the Spider Book, the Fishbone fold, and many, many more. Some have called Kyle the most influential book artist of her time.
Kyle’s generosity with her craft is perhaps the most endearing element of her work. The readiness with which she has made available instructions, offered of her time, and shared her most creative ideas is nothing short of remarkable.
In art school Kyle studied illustration and graphic design and in an interview with Alastair Johnston at the Fine Press Book Association, Kyle says that she learned book design such as covers and typography in this program but not book craft. From there, she went on to learn advertising and spent some time drawing advertisements as produced through the J. Walter Thompson agency. Her work at the time included such brands as Philadelphia cream cheese and Lux soap.
Also according to her interview with Johnson, Kyle first developed her craft and style with Laura Young in the 70’s in New York and eventually began teaching at the center for book arts in New York, a position she claims to have fallen into by accident.
Over time, she moved on to teach in the book arts program at Philadelphia Arts, but, she says to Johnson, she is prone to overwork as she gets excited about things and when she is teaching this pushes her to take on too much, frequently.
Kyle claims that giving away her work has been satisfying but she would prefer to see some more innovation as the tone in at least this interview implies she is worried for her structures becoming cliche’d.
This may be a valid concern as the Flag Book, created by Kyle in 1979, is referred to by the Guild of Book Workers as “the single most influential structure in the world of contemporary bookmaking.”
Though it may be tempting to focus on the structure of her books, to keep the folds and ingenious innovations center stage, Kyle says she doesn’t want blank books calling it a “missed opportunity.” The structure exists to support the art contained therein, and Kyle emphasizes the work of the book by using her structures to support and showcase the material contained inside.
Kyle is the cofounder of the Paper Book Intensive, the “annual working sabbatical in book arts, papermaking, and conservation” which is the largest gathering of it’s kind in the nation; a professor at the University of Arts in Philadelphia; and has lectured worldwide on her craft. Of her work, Mills College book arts professor Julie Chen says, “She is a rockstar in the book art world,” adding, “The whole book art community is indebted to her for her contributions and for what she has created.”
Hedi Kyle does not merely push the envelope. She folds it first, fills it, and gives it back to you as a book.
A few instruction sheets for her work can be found here:
More information on Kyle:
Information on the intensive mentioned herein:
The program for which Kyle teaches:
Information on ordering a catalog of an exhibit she held can be found here:
Several structures not seen here can also be seen at: