Past Grant recipient and current Grant Committee member Hannah Batsel commented, “Caxton Club’s book arts grant was the first financial support I ever received for any book project, … ultimately, our grant represents not just a vote of confidence and support for a single project, but also a foot in the door to the larger arts community.”
Jill Axelson (University of Illinois) received a grant for Bookmaking as Bibliographic Study: an Inquiry into the First Printing of the Hawaiian Alphabet. She will base her work on the 1822 book The Alphabet, “the first known printing of the Hawaiian alphabet … a 16-page reading primer printed by missionaries after their arrival to the Hawaiian islands.” “This text sits at a crossroads: between the oral and written form; between the motivations of missionaries and the motivations of the Hawaiian language’s oral and written form; between the motivations of missionaries and the motivations of the Hawaiian monarchy; between the Hawaiian monarchy and the Hawaiian people; between then and now.” She will create “new books containing the text from “The Alphabet” and will add paratext (title, publication date, printing info, print location, table of contents, colophon) that do not exist in the original. The work will use typography and layout to reveal motivations and perspectives.
Esther Cho (University of Wisconsin-Madison) will use the form of a traditional Korean jewelry box to retell stories “of Asian-Americans, children of immigrants, and Asian diasporas to consider the history and experience of identity, gender, loss of lineage, and cultural disconnect.” She will combine her “skills as a woodworker with hand papermaking processes to make intimate objects in the hopes of sparking introspection and help identify our shared humanity.” Her project is a collaborative artist’s book project with writer, theater-maker, and spoken word poet Jisoo Hope Yoon’s six poems that “explore themes of youth, coming-of-age, and identity through the lens of Asian-American women. They plan to create an edition of 4 copies—"two for our personal collection, the third to be submitted to the Kohler Art Library’s Artist’s Book collection located at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the fourth copy to be placed at an institution of important Asian scholarship. The project will also be accompanied by a physical and digital catalog of the books.”
Yueqi Huang (SAIC) will explore worker protests. A recent arrival in the United States from China, she sees the disparity between rich and poor here, but also that there are many laws and unions that help protect the lower classes’ rights. Compared with laborers in China, laborers in the United States get more respect from their hard work. She plans to interview workers and entrepreneurs in the garment industry for her artist’s book. She also hopes to “connect their experience with my own memory about my childhood. When I was a child, my grandma worked in a garment factory, and I always played there. I want to put these two narratives to a new structure in this book.” She will use risograph printing and fiber arts to bring these narratives “to a more vivid level.”
Sophie Loubere (University of Wisconsin-Madison) is to create an artist’s book that explores the relationship between humans, animals, and deep time through researched history. She will “collect stories, images, vegetation, and literal pieces of earth and weave them together using print and papermaking, alternative photographic processes, book arts, and creative writing. She “will use overdyed waxed canvas, aged in salt, and buried for a winter and will burn the title into the book board, creating a low, pitted surface and a lingering smell.” She has plans “to print the text lithographically. Large lithographic plates and pin registration will allow me to print multiple pages together. The look of lithography can be crisp and clear or inky and atmospheric. I intend to use inking and printing methods that ensure legibility while creating interesting textures and adding visual weight to the text. The end pages and some individual pages will use flax and cotton pulp, found plant life, and pulp painting. While the text will be printed on Somerset text weight book paper, there will be pieces of handmade paper throughout the book.”
Sam Northcut (University of Wisconsin) will create the Building Books Project, consisting of small books that “resemble and function as children’s building block toys.” He will “explore the objecthood of books and use them in ways that incorporate play and sculpture using the books themselves as building blocks” that he wants to be seen “collectively as a unit, so if one opens all of the books to specific pages the blocks fit together … to create a visual that showcases the books fitting together as a unit.”
Dave Cwiock will create I Am Here, “an animated flip book that encapsulates the feeling of staying present as a student who is about to leave the safety of school.” He will use hand-set metal type to print the text and then mount the work to a mutoscope (a device from 1894 that displayed animations before there were projectors). “I have discovered that mutoscopes are the bookbinding practice of animation. This device usually presents a story through images, but I will be recontextualizing the mutoscope to present a concept through animated type.” The book is 6”x6” and will be letterpress printed on a white heavy weight paper, bound to a mutoscope built out of ash wood that stands 17 inches tall.
Yuree Jang will use her grant to create a book about the introspective process of assimilation within Asia/America as a Korean/American. Her project Ghosth(a)unting, “will be a 10x10 inch book with five suspended pages, in an edition of three. Four pages will be made of transparency paper and one of two-way mirrored laser cut plexiglass. On the 4 pages of transparency paper, the sentence “남들처럼 살고싶다" (“I want to live like everyone else”) will be separated into 4 parts and printed on 4 sheets of transparency paper, using opaque solvent-based ink and letterpress. “남들처럼 살고싶다" will be constructed as accurately as possible using English metal type letters and punctuation. She believes that “letterpress and metal type are an essential part to this book because of its historical significance, physicality, and meticulous, intentional nature … With every metal letter I set, I am making the invisible visible. Creating this book will give me a way to explore what it means to be Korean, become American, and try to remember what it meant to be Korean again.”
Angelica Ong received an Honorable Mention for a Garden of Haikus. 「俳句の箱庭」(Garden of Haikus) “conveys the experience and sensation of reading a Japanese haiku—its nuances, atmospheric quality, and revelatory potential. The box component features fully functioning shoji doors. Each of these sliding doors opens up to one book. Each of the four compartments represents one season. The seasons play a central role in the tradition of Japanese haikus, with specific kigo ("season words") that correspond to particular seasons. Each compartment houses one book, each book portrays one haiku. The box is made of basswood, plywood, and kōzo paper. The wooden box pieces were cut using a laser cutting machine.” There will be an edition of five.