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Ohio Northern Art & Design Professor Curates Show of Artists’ Books

Alice AustinOhio Northern University Professor of Art Melissa Eddings-Mancuso has curated an exhibition of artists’ books that are on display at the ArtSpace/Lima Gallery in Lima, Ohio through October 31.

An opening reception is planned for Friday, September 18 starting at 6:30p.m. at ArtSpace.

Artists’ books have a relatively short history compared to the history of fine arts. “Not until the mid-1960s and through the 1970s did the collaborative tradition of making books expand to define books by artists as unique works of art,” explained Eddings. “Today, colleges, universities and art schools offer an array of book-arts programs. The artist’s book has continued to gain prominence in the fine art world largely due to its ability to encompass virtually any other art form, providing the opportunity to create added meaning in an intimate structure.”

Creating an artist’s book can prove to challenge audiences to explore innovative ways of seeing, learning and understanding. “Most books, in the traditional sense, have an illustrator, art director, writer, editor, typographer, printer and binder involved in their production,” said Eddings. “With an artist’s book, the artist often fills each of those roles. Today, the artist has many more technological elements at his or her disposal, allowing them to be more experimental in their choices of structure and medium.”

Over the course of a year, Prof. Eddings researched and selected the artists and their work for the installation. The ArtSpace exhibit includes four books by six artists: Alice Austin, Alisa Golden, Bea Nettles, Marian Runk, Karen Hanmer and Pati Scobey.

“On first glance, each of the artists participating in ArtSpace’s exhibit, Undercover, faithfully adheres to maintaining the anatomy of a book: text block, binding, and cover are clearly evident,” described Eddings. “What makes a book more than merely a collection of words and images is the relationship between form and content. What entices and engages is the way structure and text combine to create an experience that becomes greater than the individual parts.”

According to Eddings, this exhibit at ArtSpace is a diverse sampling. “The six participating artists are an extremely versatile, dedicated and talented group who continually push themselves and their craft to new levels.”

“Yes, a book can be an object that sits on a shelf. It can also embody what this exhibition highlights—in the hand of an artist, a book is an intimate vehicle for expression through words, text, time, space, sound, past, present and future.”

Undercover: 6 Artists/24 Books is sponsored by The Book Club, Books in the Hood and The Argonne Literary Society and Adventure Club. Admission to the Ellen Nelson Gallery at ArtSpace is free and open to the public. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday, 10a.m.–5p.m., Saturday, 10a.m.–2p.m. and closed Sunday and Monday. Please contact ArtSpace for additional information (419.222.1721).

ArtSpace/Lima is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing visual arts to the West Central Ohio region including. Its organization occupies a turn-of-the-century three-story brick building in the North West quadrant of Town Square in Downtown Lima, Ohio.

Melissa is an associate professor in art at Ohio Northern’s department of art & design. She received her MFA in painting from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania and her BFA from Ohio University in 1992. She has taught at ONU since 1997, served as chair from 2000–2002 and currently teaches painting, printmaking and foundation courses in the department of art & design.

On campus, Melissa serves as the gallery director, the department’s study abroad coordinator and adviser for the Student Art League. In addition, she is a member of the University’s Planning Council, the Committee on Professional Evaluation and has served on the Faculty Affairs and the Cultural Affairs and Special Events committees. For a few years, she served on the board of directors for ArtSpace in Lima, Ohio.

Melissa has been accepted to numerous juried shows including ArtSpace/Lima, the Findlay Art League, and the Ohio Art League. She also has had work on exhibit at Thiel College, Bluffton University, Ohio Northern University and Edinboro University. She also was recently accepted into the Monumental Ideas in Miniature Books Project that will travel worldwide in 2010.

Ohio Northern offers both the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees with majors in advertising design, art education, graphic design and studio arts. The department of A&D holds memberships in national organizations such as the National Art Education Association, College Art Association, Foundations in Art: Theory and Education and the National Council on Education of Ceramic Arts. The department is recognized in the second edition of “Creative Colleges: A Guide for Student Actors, Artists, Dancers, Musicians and Writers” as one of the best creative programs nationwide. For additional information about the department of art & design, contact the department at 419.772.2160.

image: Meat Ball Math, Alice Austin