Thompson Library might be best known as a hub of books and periodicals, but in its belly are art-revolving exhibitions that stay for only three months.
Its current exhibition, “Rough Edges: Women Artists and the Collegiate Press,” was curated by Sarah Falls, the head of the Fine Arts Library. The exhibition highlights custom printing design, known as “book art,” and features works printed at Ohio State, like the ones made on west campus’ Logan Elm Press.
“I didn’t know much about the fine arts press and its operations. I didn’t know much about them beyond the fact that they made beautiful books,” Falls said. “I realized that many of the books that have been created in the past decades have been created by women and were connected to OSU in a number of ways.”
Falls began researching fine arts presses and discovered that there were multiple communities creating book art.
“A spot came up in the Thompson gallery so on a tight time frame, I came in and got the opportunity to explore these questions and ideas that I was having,” Falls said. “The libraries were collecting artists’ books. Many of these artists were women.”
Falls’ exhibit displays various books and other artworks created by the fine press. Some pieces, such as such as Eileen Silva’s MFA thesis from 2008 and Karen Kunc’s MFA thesis from 1977, are bound books. Other pieces are not, such as Rebecca Harvey’s “Any Number of Things,” which is a wall piece created with ink on kozo and gampi fiber paper.
“A lot of it is about the process women went through to create their art,” Falls said. “We wanted to highlight some of the things women used to make it.”
OSU has classes that teach about book art, but Falls said it’s not a medium that gets much attention.
“Faculty members are creating book arts classes,” Falls said. “But nobody was coming together to talk about it. My hope with the show was to drive people together.”
The creation of such art on OSU’s campus gets even less attention.
“Classes from art and design go out (to the Logan Elm Press), but a lot of people aren’t exposed to it,” Falls said.
Some of the works are a rebuke to the history of book-making, which had a long association with a masculine “master and apprentice” model — while this exhibition present an alternate to that history, Falls said it doesn’t have an overtly political angle.
“Often times, students are thrown off by the word feminist and I think students shouldn’t be,” she said. “They should come into the gallery and enjoy the work.”
Falls’ exhibit is one of many gallery exhibits coordinated by the OSU library system.
“We are moving toward an exhibit proposal system that will start in this coming Fall Semester,” said Erin Fletcher, coordinator for the library exhibit system. “We’ll be accepting proposals in the fall for 2017.”
All slots are books before then, but any faculty or staff member are now able to submit a proposal to create an exhibit by working with a library partner and library collections.
“I think that our exhibits program and curators have an incredible opportunity to engage with campus opportunity,” Fletcher said. “We primarily have worked with special collections curators, but the proposal system will allow for more collaboration. We’re working strongly toward the value of diversity in people and ideas.”
The gallery in Thompson is currently open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. and on weekends from noon until 6 p.m.