Eastern Michigan University professors receive National Endowment for the Arts award for Open Book project

by Emily Vontom, Published November 09, 2012

Eastern Michigan University has received its first National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) award in more than 25 years.

Art professors Leslie Atzmon and Ryan Molloy were awarded $35,000 for their two-year project to edit and design an exhibition catalog and run a series of experimental artists' book workshops that address the increasing concern about the future of the book.

"This grant is an essential component of seeing the project through its infancy and into a stage in which it becomes self-sustainable," Atzmon said. "We want it to become a yearly summer institute that produces novel thinking and visual work."

The project is a continuation of their 2010 Open Book project, and will feature essays on the history and future of books as well as group discussions, and workshops at the Eastern's Jean Noble Parsons Center near Traverse City, Mich.

"We will use funds to run two experimental book design workshops and to design, publish and distribute an art-book quality book," said Atzmon. "The book will be a catalog of Open Book, an exhibition that Ryan and I co-curated in 2010, plus the pieces produced in our workshops and seven scholarly essays on the history and future of the book."

The purpose of the project is to challenge the simplistic notion that mass produced traditional books are rendered irrelevant and ultimately extinct by mass-reproduced digital books, says Atzmon.

"The exhibition and work of the participants in the workshop really pushes the boundaries of what can be considered a book, whether physical or digital," said Molloy. "The relationship to the digital (book) is more symbolic than before."

The first of two workshops was held in summer 2012 and the projects from the workshop were exhibited in fall 2012. The second of two workshops will be held in summer 2012 with the projects on display in the EMU Ford Gallery during fall 2013. To learn more about the Open Book project, please visit http://www.openbookproject.com.



Emily Vontom

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