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Book Arts: The Book as Memorial

Subject-specific lists of book arts materials available in Special Collections at the Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library

Haas Arts Special Collections

Portraits: For Nancy Morgenstern. Otis Rubottom. San Diego: Bay Park Press, 2003. Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library Special Collections Call Number Z232.B45 R83 2003 (LC) Oversize

This prose poem is a memorial to one particular friend but also to the encounters lost once friends are no longer with us. Otis Rubottom describes his personal experience of waiting for his friend to appear in The New York Times obituary pages, then the flood of memories that seeing her face brings: “Such a simple thing, friends passing on the street, small talk about work & riding, the promise of spring, all of it wholly forgettable.  It took your face in the paper to bring it back – the breadth of your smile, your scarf a splash of color.  The space in the air as you turned to go & then were gone.”  The designer-printers Sibyl Rubottom and Jim Machacek dedicate the publication “in memory of all 9-11 victims.”

Hours.  Patricia M. Smith. Philadelphia: P.S. Press, 2003.  Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library Special Collections Call Number NJ18.Sm657 A12 2003 (LC)

Smith calls on the Catholic rites of prayer to draw attention to the day that seemed to happen all too quickly and in slow motion simultaneously.  Many reports of the activities on September 11, 2001, focused on the “timeline” of the coordinated attacks.  In Hours, Smith has eloquently used the traditional Catholic markers of the day and language that evokes Christian beliefs to create a poetic interpretation of the timeline.  On display is the “Vespers” section, the evening prayer.

Matins / There was no announcement.

Lauds / an unwelcome visitation

Prime / a nativity of terror

Terce / Heralds proclaimed the news.

Sext / an adoration of heroes.

None / long sacrifice toward purification

Vespers / the flight of innocent spirits

Compline / martyrs crowned eternal

Out of the Sky: Remembering 9-11. Werner Pfeiffer. Red Hook, NY: Pear Whistle Press, 2006. Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library Special Collections Call Number N7433.4.P504 O87 2006 (LC) Oversize

Pfeiffer published Out of the Sky in commemoration of the fifth anniversary and “in memory of the victims of 9-11.”  In the exhibition, the work is in its completed state.  But the intention of the artist is for the reader to “read” the piece during assembly.  He writes in the introduction: “Like most of my books OUT OF THE SKY is an interactive piece, which requires a ‘hands-on’ attitude to read.  It is a three dimensional book consisting of a group of large woodcuts in the shape of two towers, each over five feet tall.  Instead of following a horizontal direction, here the movement is vertical.”  Each of the seven segments includes four “pages” that become the sides of the tower when stacked.  Pfeiffer printed the names of victims vertically to imitate the texture of the exterior of the World Trade Center towers.  The abstracted imagery on the lower portions of the tower sculptures evokes the chaos of the attacks and their aftermath.

Hecatombe 9-11.  Maria G. Pisano.  Plainsboro, NJ: Memory Press, 2007. Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library Special Collections Call Number NJ18.P67775 A12 2007 (LC)

In the week following the 9/11 attacks, the artist visited Ground Zero three times.  She took numerous photographs and spent time observing other people as she tried to deal with the magnitude of the situation.  Six years later Pisano produced this work as a memorial to those who lost their lives on that day and to the “trust in the outside world” that she and many others also lost that day.  Pisano writes: “This memorial book is an attempt to come to terms with an experience that is a constant open wound for the nation.  It incorporates all the victims’ names along with photographs of destroyed buildings and the impromptu memorials created by loved ones on downtown walls.”

Associate Director, Arts Library

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Mar Gonzalez Palacios
Contact:
Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library
190 York Street | P.O. Box 208318
New Haven, CT 06520-8318
(203) 432-4439