News | June 16, 2020

MCBA Announces First-Ever McKnight Book Artist Fellows

Courtesy of the Minnesota Center for Book Arts

L: Paula McCartney (photo by Lex Thompson); R: Lisa Nebenzahl (photo by Hanna Voxland)

Minneapolis — Minnesota Center for Book Arts is delighted to announce the 2020 McKnight Book Artist Fellows, Paula McCartney and Lisa Nebenzahl. These inaugural fellows mark the beginning of MCBA’s partnership with the McKnight Foundation’s Artist Fellowship program, which has offered support for individual Minnesota artists working in a range of disciplines, from film to ceramics, since 1981.

McCartney and Nebenzahl have each been awarded a year-long fellowship, which runs from August 2020 to July 2021. The award includes $25,000 in unrestricted funds, studio access through MCBA’s Artist Collective, and opportunities to professionally engage with nationally renowned book artists, curators, and critics, among other benefits. The artists will share their work at a public artist talk during their fellowship year.

Three distinguished jurors —Tia Blassingame (Scripps College), Clifton Meador (Appalachian State University), and Marcia Reed (Getty Research Institute) —reviewed applications, conducted virtual studio tours with the finalists, and ultimately selected McCartney and Nebenzahl from an impressive pool of mid-career book artists living and working in Minnesota. Mid-career is a stage defined as “beyond emerging,” meaning artists not only exhibit exceptional merit, but have created a substantial body of work over a sustained period of time.

Juror Marcia Reed notes that both Nebenzahl and McCartney have "affinities to nature and geometry," likening Nebenzahl's photographic sculptures to crystals. She describes McCartney’s books as “invitingly designed... mov[ing] back and forth from recording nature, then witnessing, or even occasionally creating the man-made interactions.” The bonus, she adds, is her humor.

Paula McCartney makes artist's books, photographs, and ceramics that illustrate her collaborations with the natural world and consider ways that light activates both objects and environments. McCartney holds an MFA in Photography from the San Francisco Art Institute and has received grants from the Women’s Studio Workshop, the Aaron Siskind Foundation, the McKnight Fellowship for Photographers (2007, 2013), and the Minnesota State Arts Board. Her books are included in the collections of the Walker Art Center, Museum of Modern Art, Beinecke Rare Book Library at Yale University, New York Public Library, UCLA Arts Library, Joan Flasch Artist Book Collection at SAIC among many others. She has two published monographs: Bird Watching (2010) and A Field Guide to Snow and Ice (2014).

Lisa Nebenzahl creates work that ponders themes of resilience and fragility, loss and persistence, and the passage of time. She explores these ideas using shadow and light, working with the natural world of plants, water, and sky. Her interest in this imagery affirms the beauty of change and is a reminder of the temporal condition, embracing the interplay of chance and surprise that comes from observing and responding to the natural world. Nebenzahl’s multidisciplinary practice includes historical printing processes, sculpture, installation, and collage/montage. Her work has been exhibited nationally and in Oaxaca, Mexico. Nebenzahl is a three-time recipient of the Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative grant and holds a BFA from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.