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Book Arts: First Person Accounts

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

Haas Arts Special Collections

Testament.  Gail Watson. Denver: Zuni Press, 2005. Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library Special Collections Call Number Z232.Z86 W38 2005 (LC) Oversize

This work uses the documentary aspect of photography to make the personal story of the artist more universal.  Watson describes the agony of not knowing if her sister, who worked near the World Trade Center, had survived.  Fortunately, she was one of the people spared by unexpected changes to her typical workday schedule.  Watson pairs her memories of New York City in the 1980s with black and white images of the street memorials so prevalent in the months after the event. Watson dedicates her book to “those who didn’t make it home that day.”

Even the Birds Were on Fire: 9.11.01. New York and New Jersey: Sara Parkel/Filter Press, 2001. Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library Special Collections Call Number NJ18 P2274 A12 2001 (LC)

Parkel dedicates this delicate book to “the victims of violence.”  Texts from friends of Parkel and snippets of conversation are printed in a vertical format, giving it the feel of poetry.  Perpendicular to the main text is the timeline of the attacks.  The texts muse on the unbelievable nature of the situation, specifically from a first-person point of view.  

The Bicycle Diaries.  Writings by Richard Goodman; Wood engravings by Gaylord Schanilec. Stockholm, WI: Midnight Paper Sales, 2011. Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library Special Collections Call Number Z232.M635 G66 2011 (LC)

Goodman made a sort of pilgrimage by bicycle to the site of the World Trade Center attacks almost every day for four months after September 11, 2001.  After each visit he recorded his response in writing.  The Bicycle Diaries contains entries from this time paired with newly created wood engravings by Schanilec.  Schanilec and Goodman rode their bicycles on the same route 10 years later; then Schanilec used this experience to generate the imagery for this edition.  The immediacy of Goodman’s text juxtaposed with the imagery created a decade later underscores both how the events are still part of our everyday lives and how much has changed since that time.  In the case above are the illustrations from an unbound copy of the book.

The Flag Project. Maureen Cummins. High Falls, NY: Maureen Cummins, 2007. Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library Special Collections Call Number NJ18.C9272 A12 2007B (LC) Oversize

Inspired by the vast array of American flags that appeared after the 9/11 attacks, Cummins first created flag-sized silkscreen prints as part of a project to explore the use of personal memoir as a medium to question larger social and political issues. (Two of the flag prints can be seen in the exhibition cases on the wall).  Ultimately she created 26 large prints, each with a text about her own life, but which addresses issues of importance to many.  She paired smaller illustrations of the flags with an easier-to-read letterpress version of the text in the book format.  This first entry, “The Fall,” discusses the feeling of before and after many people describe in relation to 9/11.

9/11 and the Aftermath. Students of the Art of the Book program, the Art School, Pratt Institute. Brooklyn, NY: Pratt Institute, 2002.  Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library Special Collections Call Number Z232.P845 Z9 A15 2002 (LC)

Under the mentorship of Professor Werner Pfeiffer (whose artwork Out of the Sky is featured in the large exhibition case), then current art students in the Art of the Book program at Pratt Institute’s Art School produced a small portfolio of pictorial/textual responses.  In the exhibit case on the wall above is a selection of these.  Students manipulated a single sheet of paper to each create a unique piece tied together by format and subject.  As a collection, the portfolio is a microcosm of the variety of responses to the 9/11 attacks.  As individual pieces, each student gives the reader a glimpse into his or her memory.

Detritus. Robbin Ami Silverberg. Brooklyn, NY: Dobbin Books, 2002-2008.  Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library Special Collections Call Number In Process

Two weeks after the 9/11 attacks, Silverberg ventured into the area around Ground Zero to check on the status of the Ampersand Foundation’s New York City apartment. The Ampersand Foundation is a non-profit arts organization that offers New York City residencies to South African artists.  She experienced firsthand “abandoned buildings covered in thick layers of dust, with trees covered in paper detritus as if they had genetically altered leaves.”  She gathered dust and paper detritus, then added it to paper pulp along with ripped New York City maps.  The sheets created became the basis for the Detritus series of six books, each one unique by the paper inclusions.  Silverberg’s text shows how she, as an artist and a lifelong New Yorker, is coming to terms with “life afterwards.”  Many of the texts that Silverberg wrote for this work and other 9/11 related works are also part of the installation she created specifically for this exhibition on the bulletin board to the right of the exhibition area.

Other Yale Libraries

Some of These Daze.  Drawings by Mimi Gross; Writings by Charles Bernstein.  New York City: Granary Books, 2005. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Call Number Zab B458 +2005S

This collaboration was proposed by Gross after she heard Bernstein read his writings in response to 9/11 only a few weeks after the event.  In those same few weeks Gross had been filling sketchbooks with ink drawings made on the streets surrounding Ground Zero.  The artists worked together to select and pair words and images for Some of These Daze.  Reproductions of Gross’s drawings were printed silkscreen for this limited edition of 75 copies.