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Beyond the Text: Artists’ Books from the Collection of Robert J. Ruben

Counting on the Marsh

Shawn Sheehy’s Counting on the Marsh: A Nighttime of Numbers


The Spring 2011 exhibit in the Bailey/Howe Library lobby features artists’ books collected by Robert J. Ruben over the last several decades.  The books were selected to provide examples of different forms and media, with an eye to high quality. There are accordion books, scrolls, box books, pop-ups, and tunnel books that have known texts, new texts, or no text at all. They are made of paper, wood, plastic, and even lead and glass. The subject matter is serious, political, argumentative, and sometimes humorous.

For example, the giant pop-up Back to a Remembered Time by Paul Johnson shows a complex house-like form made up of many windows, entrances, and restive spaces, all with a dazzling range of colors.  Opening its kaleidoscopic wings, the viewer opens to a sense of joy.

Incantations is the first book created completely by Mayan people in nearly five hundred years.  Over 150 Mayans from all walks of life collaborated as writers, illustrators and paper makers working with the Taller Lenateros –Woodland Workshop.  The illustrations are accompanied by poetry written in the Mayan languageTzotzil, with English translations.  The Mayan women who produced the poems say they were written by the Earth, the Moon or the Sun, and come to them from books of their ancestors shown to them in dreams.

The exhibition and the opening reception on March 3 from 3-4:30 pm are free and open to the public.  For more information, call 802-656-1493 or email uvmsc@uvm.edu


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