The Coffey Residency in Book Arts

Submitted by Ellen Knudson, Curator, Book Arts Collection (Special and Area Studies Collections) and Instructor of Book Arts & Letterpress  (School of Art + Art History at the University of Florida)

Initiated in 2015, The Coffey Residency in Book Arts program at the George A. Smathers Libraries at the University of Florida invites a selected artist to access materials from the Special and Area Studies Collections (SASC) as the impetus for the creation of an artist’s book edition. During the semester-long residency, the artist interacts with librarians, curators, faculty, and students across the university.

The Coffey Residency is nationally recognized in the book arts community and the books produced during the residency have been well and widely acclaimed. The residency is one of the first established book arts residency programs that features research in a special collections library as the inspiration for the creation of an artist’s book, and also provides the artist with a stipend and access to facilities to produce the book edition.

The range of artist’s books created during the Coffey Residency is broad; A citrus crate tunnel book (2015), a portfolio of wild bird linoleum cut prints (2016), A gothic style moveable, pop-up book (2017), a Mollusk shell book sculpted with handmade paper (2018), and an elegantly layered ledger of climate change prediction maps (2019). All of the Coffey Residency books include a varying amount of letterpress printing done on the SP-15 Vandercook Proofing Press and use of the book arts facilities in the UF School of Art + Art History. The books are entirely original works written, designed, illustrated, printed, and constructed by each artist. Facilitation, coordination, and production assistance for the residency is provided by Ellen Knudson (Associate in Book Arts, University of Florida).

All Sorts, by Emily Martin (Naughty Dog Press and the University of Iowa) is the inaugural artist’s book edition from the 2015 Coffey Residency in Book Arts at the George A. Smathers Libraries at the University of Florida. The design of All Sorts was inspired by Martin’s research of the contents of the Jerry Chicone, Jr. Citrus Crate Label Collection.

Learn more about Emily Martin and her work on her website.

Blue book with orange that says "All Sorts" on an orange background. The book is an accordion and opens to the back.
All Sorts, by Emily Martin. 2015. (image credit, E. Martin)
Three citrus labels on a white background. One is blue with a star, one is yellow with an alligator holding oranges, while the third has an orange in a green beam that says “peerless.”
Samples from the Jerry Chicone Jr. Citrus Crate Label Collection that influenced the design of All Sorts.

The Woodpeckers of Florida by Molly Kempson (Spotty Boy Press, Gainesville, Florida and UF Art Education alumnus) is the 2016 artist’s book edition from the Coffey Residency. The book is inspired by Kempson’s research of natural history texts from the Harold and Mary Jean Hanson Rare Book Collection and the Baldwin Children’s Book Collection in the Special and Area Studies Collections Department.

More of Molly Kempson’s work can be found at her website for Spotty Boy Press.

Photo of the images from The Woodpeckers of Florida. Three are fanned out, one is on the binding, and another four are fanned out and there is a standing box with paper inside.
Prints and portfolio from The Woodpeckers of Florida, by Molly Kempson. 2016
Drawing of woodpeckers on a tree. One is looking at the viewer.
Detail of woodpecker from The Picture Book of Birds by J.G. Woods. 1875. From the Baldwin Library of Historical Children’s Literature.

Ephemerus by H.M. Batsel (Chicago, Illinois) is the 2017 artist’s book edition from the Coffey Residency. The book is inspired by Batsel’s research of occult and magical texts from the Harold and Mary Jean Hanson Rare Book Collection and movable books from the Baldwin Children’s Book Collection in the Special and Area Studies Collections Department.

Hannah Bastel features this project and additional work on her website.

Two page red and black woodcut spread featuring a wizard holding a book and putting various objects into a kettle. The text narrates the wizard’s actions.
Spread from Ephemerus, by H.M. Batsel. 2017.
Page featuring illustrations related to alchemical processes. There are various containers and a man near a sort of furnace.
Page from the book The Works of the Highly Experienced and Famous Chymist, John Rudolph Glauber (1689) (540.9 G551 Oversize)

The Mollusk by Amy Richard (Gainesville, Florida) is the 2018 artist’s book edition from the Coffey Residency. The project is the result of research in the Special and Area Studies Collections Department from a range of rare and historical books about Florida malacology, nature, poetry, and livres d’artiste. Produced as a variable edition, this sculptural artist’s book is designed and made entirely of handmade paper by the artist.

Amy Richard has additional commentary about this and her other work on her website.

Photo of the book "The Mollusk" laying open. The book resembles an open mollusk shell with red, blue, and white components.
Detail from The Mollusk, by Amy Richard. 2018. (image credit, A. Richard)
Photo of the book "The Mollusk" laying open. The book resembles an open mollusk shell with red, blue, and white components.
The shell book; a popular guide to a knowledge of the families of living mollusks, and an aid to the identification of shells native and foreign, Julia Ellen Rogers, 1908. (QL405 .R72)

Sea Change by Anne Covell (San Diego, CA) is the recently completed 2019 artist’s book edition from the Coffey Residency. The system of mapping used in this edition was inspired by research of the print holdings of the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps of Florida in the Map & Imagery Library, containing a record of 28 paper corrections dating from 1928–1950. Map images were drawn from worst case scenario predictions from the NOAA Sea Level Rise Viewer. You can even watch Anne Covell’s artist’s talk from December 2, 2019.

Additional information about this project is located on Anne Covell’s personal website.

Open book. One page has some text while the other has a map of Florida that was created by layering cut out paper.
Spread from Sea Change, by Anne Covell. 2019. (image credit, A. Covell)
Close up of fire insurance map from the early 20th century. Buildings are different colors and there is paper pasted over various parts of the map to mark when buildings were built or modified.
Sample page from the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps of Florida in the Map & Imagery Library. (image credit, A. Covell)

The Coffey Residency in Book Arts is supported by the Marjorie S. Coffey Library Endowment, established in 2008. The endowment supports the George A. Smathers Libraries at the University of Florida with special attention to the donor’s interest in miniature books and artists’ books.

Black and white photograph of a woman wearing a white shirt holding what looks to be a spool with ribbon.
Marjorie Coffey in her studio. Washington D.C., 1977.

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