Founded in 1941, Scripps College Press is an experimental student bookbinding and letterpress laboratory on the Scripps College campus in Claremont, California. For the last thirty-five years the Press has sold editioned, letterpress printed student bookwork to standing order patrons, private and institutional collectors and collections. Those sales, in turn, have supported the operations, maintenance, and activities of the Press including the biannual Frederic Goudy Lecture that brings prominent voices of the broad book arts field to campus. Recent lectures include book artist Alisa Banks (2020), papermaker Hong Hong (2019), and artist Tona Wilson (2019). Since my arrival in 2016, the Press has expanded the students’ opportunities to create individual editioned artists’ books. They collaborate with established and emerging artists by printing with them, interviewing them, and creating prints of their poetry (Tonya Foster, 2021), and exploring social justice issues through printmaking and bookbinding. Some of this work is presented at scba.omeka.net.
In March 2020, Scripps College responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by suspending in-person classes and shifting to remote learning. The pandemic has allowed us to focus on conceptualization and the creation of unique artists’ books and print portfolios. Students really honed their printmaking skills, strengthened their artistic voices, and developed their critiquing skills.
For the inaugural and virtual 2020 Summer Session at Scripps College, I designed the “Zines, Artists’ Books, and Experimental Printmaking” course for students to explore the basics of conceptualizing and making zines and artists’ books through demonstrations, library visits, and conversations with artists like Morgan Stewart (Scripps 2019) and Jerushia Graham, and curators like Marcia Reed of the Getty Research Institute. Students learned the basics of paper folding combined with mark-making and early printmaking techniques that could be done at home. Through structured and open exercises, students developed content and layouts for increasingly complex books. Remote class visits to Denison Library, Honnold/Mudd Library Special Collections, and Asian Library Special Collections showcased historical and contemporary book arts treasures at Scripps College and within the Claremont Colleges.
Students created final projects utilizing the book and print techniques that they learned during this six-week, intensive summer studio course. They introduced and explored their choice of subject matter: personal, political, informational, storytelling; the silence of a city during the pandemic, Black Lives Matter protest chants, and the abrupt end to a semester abroad due to COVID-19. These artists’ books were designed and executed by students working in their homes across the country and the globe. Created with a mix of art supplies and materials pulled from kitchen pantries, medicine cabinets, recycling and trash bins, these artists’ books are not editioned, but the students’ video documentation can be viewed as an alternative or surrogate artists’ book.
2021 is the eightieth anniversary of the Scripps College Press. While the pandemic may have forestalled our celebrations, it is heartening to recognize the energy and vision of the Press, represented by this small sampling of Summer 2020 student artists’ books, even when we can’t be together in our lovely studio.
Assistant Professor of Book Arts, Scripps College
Director, Scripps College Press
Pamphlet stitch variation: pop-ups, original poetry, handwritten text, linocut stamping • 4.5 × 6 inches • 2020
When I look into the night sky,
And strain my ears to really hear
All I can hear is silence
Loud, deafening silence.
It looms in the distance, right in front of me.
Shutter with attached house-shaped booklet: pochoir, collagraph, linocut, painting, digital printing • 12 × 17 inches (book), 4.5 × 3 inches (colophon) • 2020
2020 aims to represent the artist’s sudden change in situation during the COVID-19 pandemic. The two images shown represent her time in Copenhagen, Denmark at the beginning of the year and her experience after being sent back home.
How We Get Free: honouring Combahee River Collective and Black lesbians that inspire my activism
Accordion with pull tab colophon: pochoir, blotted line, digital printing • 3.75 × 4.75 inches (closed), 3.75 × 47.5 inches long (fully extended) • 2020
In How We Get Free, Es Jackson employs the accordion book form, pochoir-printed protest chants, and colorful blotted line patterns to immerse the reader/viewer in the energy and sounds of a Black Lives Matter protest. The piece expresses love and solidarity for present-day activists and connects to a long history of activism in Black communities. When fully extended, the book shows two images: a figure with raised hands chanting in protest, and another pointing a gun at the first. The artist “wanted to make a book of protest chants that could be utilized at an event in town. I was focused on making a book that would feel good in someone’s hands—one that combined the urgency of this movement with the fun in solidarity that I’ve experienced while protesting, which is why I included pochoir tie-dye pages and energetic printed text layouts.”
What do you see
Dos-à-dos: papercutting and digital printing • 9 × 11.5 inches (closed), 11.5 × 120 inches (fully extended) • 2020
This book was created to explore perceptions and the layers of one’s personality that are not immediately apparent. It shows the fear of being judged and discounted before being able to show someone all of the incredible parts of yourself.
A Healthcare Dictionary: The Experiences of Women and People of Color
Accordion: collagraph, pochoir printing, digital printing on engineered pull tabs • 5.5 × 8.5 inches • 2020
The artist plans to attend medical school and believes that the first step to solving some of the problems in the health care system is to educate the general public on these issues. The text is meant to contrast the traditional definition of a word with a second definition depicting the experiences of marginalized patients. All text and images are original. The artist completed online research and gained knowledge from The Hill and the National Center for Biotechnology Information.
Scenes of Home
Carousel with accordions in handmade envelopes: typewritten text, papercutting, blotted line, linocut, watercolor • 5.5 × 9 inches • 2020
The inspiration for this book comes from Sage’s experience of discovering what the concept of “home” means to her. She has grown up in three different states, so her definition of “home” extends beyond the traditional definition where home is solely the house or location in which one lives. This book puts forth the idea that “home” is a flexible and ever-changing term that can be made up of several different elements.
Living Nightmares: Monsters from Around the World
Accordion: clay, papercutting, collagraph, linocut stamping, pochoir, coffee-stained digitally printed text • 6 x 4.5 inches (closed) 6 x 55 inches (fully extended) • 2020
The concept for the book and the choice of monsters is inspired by the Mythology and Folklore class that the author took in her senior year of high school. By including a wide array of creatures, the reader is able to understand the similarities and differences between fears present in various cultures and how they manifested into mythology. Additional research was done from a variety of online articles including “Terrifying Unheard Mythological Creatures Will Send Chills Down Your Spine,” by Andželika, and “11 Terrifying Mythological Creatures that Expose Humanity’s Worst Fears,” by Mark Oliver.