This Sunday at Shelf Life: Book Arts Performance Exhibition with Sandra Kroupa

Sandra Kroupa, legendary Book Arts and Rare Book Curator for UW Libraries’ Special Collections, joins us for the third installment of “Book Arts: Performance Exhibition” this Sunday, September 18, from 2-3 pm.

The third and final rotation of artists’ books, drawn from the Book Arts Collection at UW Special Collections, is now on display inside Shelf Life. Under the theme ‘Challenge’, books have been drawn from the Book Arts Collection at UW Libraries’ Special Collections that defy all definitions of the term ‘book’. From crayons, matches, to covers dotted with pins and needles, to paperback books in pickling spices — whew. I thought I’d seen it all when Sandra presented rotations #1 (‘Readings’) and #2 (‘Interpretations’) but the books of ‘Challenge’ are truly something else to behold.

This Sunday, September 18th, Sandra will bring additional works from the Book Arts Collection that serve to question and provoke our assumptions about the form of the book. The books that have been selected for display in Shelf Life do well as objects inside vitrines, but most of the works in the Book Arts collection need to be manipulated in some way — held, moved, ‘pages’ turned — in order to be understood. This series of Performance Exhibitions have allowed visitors another chance to see these inventive book structures up close as Sandra animates and ‘performs’ books for visitors.

Having spent decades in the field, Sandra is an encyclopedic fount of Book Art knowledge and lore. And as a generous and wonderful teacher, she is more than happy to share her wisdom and experience with visitors and students. Past Performance Exhibitions have elicited gasps of delight from audience members as well as furious note-taking (artists in the making, sketching plans for their own book projects?) and under the theme of ‘Challenge’ this Sunday’s event promises to offer even more opportunity for amazement and wonder. We hope to see you there!

This is the third but not the last of the Performance Exhibitions! The fourth and FINAL event is a DELUXE EDITION featuring not just Sandra Kroupa but the artist Jim Koss, who has work currently on display in Shelf Life (“Clearwater”, 1993). Sandra will bring a new set of artists’ books to discuss and perform and Jim will speak about his work and practice. This Performance Exhibition will take place Sunday, October 16th, and starts at 1 pm.


Shelf Life is the Henry’s summer ode to BOOKS and READING. From July 1 – October 16th, the Henry has invited book lovers from various fields — independent publishers, librarians, poets, writers, designers, and, most importantly, readers — to share with us what they do and why they love to do it. For a complete list of Shelf Life related programming, please visit this page.

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