Jana Harper        
Lecturer in Book Arts and Letterpress       
Washington University
5656 Waterman Blvd #3SE
Saint Louis, MO 63112 USA                   
Telephone: (314) 367-2497
Paper: “Urban Books”
This paper concerns the intersection between urban issues and artists books. I teach a seminar on the subject with an Architecture Professor at Washington University in Saint Louis. We received a grant from the Sam Fox Arts Center and used two thirds of the grant money to curate a collection of artist’s books whose common theme is the city. We were able to purchase 92 books and the authors and artists are truly international, representing a multitude of imaginings of what the city is or can be.
Since the beginning of the twentieth century, art, architecture, and urbanism together have investigated the production of images that shape the symbolic dimension of our experience of large cities. The book itself carries weight as a cultural artifact and represents the physical embodiment of ideas. Artist’s books provide a uniquely intimate experience for the viewer and can serve as a private window into the mind of the maker. This makes them a form of expression that is attractive to people from many different disciplines, all of whom in this situation become urban theorists. The artists’ book is attractive to both formalists and conceptualists alike and represents a kind of democracy that actually works. In my presentation, I will discuss a selection of the books by German, French, Italian, Swiss, Scottish, English, and American artists.
JANA HARPER received her MFA degree from Arizona State University, in 2001 and a BA in liberal arts from Evergreen State College, Olympia, Washington. Since 2002 she has been a Lecturer in Art, Nancy Kranzberg Illustrated Book Studio, Washington University in Saint Louis. Harper was an artists-in-residence at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, France in 2004. Her books and prints are in the collections of the J.S. Blanton Museum, University of Texas at Austin; The Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry, Miami Beach, Florida; The Janet Turner Print Collection, California State University, Chico, California; and the Washington University Libraries, Special Collections, St. Louis, Missouri.