Artists’ Books are part of the Rare Books Collection in Special Collections. It is a growing collection of limited edition books – sometimes one-of-a-kind – that are, in themselves, works of art. The collection represents the work of artists from North America and around the world, each piece personally selected by the Special Collections Librarian and Curator. Selected works are photographed (with permission of the artist) by David Seiler, Visual Resources and Digitization Director, and are part of Scribner Library’s Digital Collections.
Maureen Cummins is a book artist who lives and works in New York State. She graduated with a BFA from the Cooper Union School of Art, and has her own print shop/studio in Brooklyn. Her website states that she has produced over twenty-five limited edition artists’ books, twenty-one of which Skidmore owns. On the eve of All Hallows’ Eve, and in the spirit of the season, two of her works are featured here: “Ghost Diary” and “A Twentieth Century Version of Poe’s Classic Tale: The Masque of the Red Death.”
Ghost Diary was inspired by a handwritten letter, written by Colonel Jonathon Rhea in 1807 to his children on the anniversary of their mother’s death. Five images accompany the text, and are original glass negatives dating from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The haunting, ethereal nature of this artist’s book has been elegantly captured in the digital images. To learn more about this work, visit the artist’s website .
A Twentieth Century Version of Poe’s Classic Tale: The Masque of the Red Death is just as the title describes. There are six chapters or sections of woodblock images, with the final image in each section in red and black. A page of text acts as a postscript to each section, as if narrated by Death itself. The ‘story’ is set in seventeenth century London, but the images depict cityscapes and interior landscapes of modern-day New York. The woodcuts are beautifully ‘brutal’, and evoke an atmosphere of violent destruction and ultimate despair. But, is the final “Guardian Life” image hopeful? What do you think?