2016 PSBA Award Winners

Dorothy McCuistion
Family Album

Family Album by Dorothy McCuistionThis little book contains copies of treasured family photos of some of my direct ancestors. On the right side of the book are my great-grandmothers, grandmothers, mother and myself, and on the left are my great-grandfathers, grandfathers, father and my husband. By flipping the cut pages out of order, new faces are created. Whom do I resemble? Did I inherit my paternal grandmother’s hair? My mother’s eyes? My father’s chin? The responses to these and other questions connect me to my past in a tangible way and affirm my place in the world.

Curator’s Choice Award 2016

Dorothy’s book engages the reader not just on a physical level, but on an intellectual one as well.  The moveable panels of the flag-book structure are the first thing that draws you in.  The concept of the shifting features of her family members keeps you there, while the black and white theme takes you deeper.  “Family Album” prompts the reader to contemplate not just her genealogy, but their own as well.

Knowing your place in the human tribe is an age-old question and the answers are as unique as the faces created in this book.  The whimsical connection to the past gives voice to the future in the flip of a panel. 


Bonnie Thompson Norman
Ballot BOX

Ballot BOX by Bonnie Thompson NormanFor me, voting is a fundamental and cherished expression of patriotism and democracy though this right is not explicitly stated nor granted in the Constitution. Ballot BOX (produced collaboratively in a class) is a literal and symbolic representation of a right which should be available to all Americans but which is being threatened and eroded. It contains a riddle and quotes from historical and literary figures. Most importantly, it includes general information on vote eligibility and registering to vote. Ballot BOX is intended both to inform and inspire people to VOTE.

Collins Memorial Library Award 2016

Ballot BOX is a timely and compelling representation of a fundamental component of democracy not guaranteed to all.  It raises important questions about who has the right to vote both historically and presently.  Through its combination of historical quotes, practical information, and structure this book invites the reader to take action.  Just as the United States benefits from the many voices of its voters the collaborative design of Ballot BOX also strengthens its message.  We envision Ballot BOX engaging students in courses from multiple disciplines, including Communication Studies, History, Politics and Government, Latino/Latina Studies, African American Studies, Gender and Queer Studies.


Carletta Carrington Wilson
Georgy and Bitty’s Quarters

Georgy and Bitty’s Quarters by Carletta Carrington WilsonGeorge and Bitty’s Quarters is one of seven houses that comprise part of the series “knot my name haint my house.” While marriage was not sanctioned between enslaved persons some people formed unions recognizing that, at any moment, their partner could be sold away without notice. My work tends to be very ornate and embellished. It was a challenge to create works that inhabit a sense of simplicity. The housing for enslaved people was varied from wooden shacks to brick buildings, although the standard abode was a poorly constructed structure that barely kept the elements at bay.

Recognition of Excellence Award 2016 juror’s statement             

Whew. I am overwhelmed!

I’ve just finished my visit to the Puget Sound Book Arts Sixth Annual Members’ Exhibition, with Suze Woolf as my tour guide/PSBA representative/chauffeur. We had a fabulous day. However, being the juror that chooses the excellence award put me in a very difficult position.

The level of sophistication, the variety of concepts, the innovative use of book structure, and the original content – all contributed to a show that is notable for its excellence, a show that could hold its own anywhere in the country.

But how does one compare, for example, a book made entirely of salt to one fashioned out of vintage handkerchiefs? Or a book with stellar typography with a book with no words at all? Choosing a single recipient is an exercise in frustration, however pleasurable.

I took a number of days to look at the work online and familiarize myself with the entries, then Suze and I spent the afternoon at University of Puget Sound’s beautiful library, where I was able to see everything in real time and space, handle the books when appropriate, ask questions, and reread the artists’ statements.

In any exhibition, recognition of this kind evinces many qualities at a high level of excellence. Integration of form and content, taking risks, emotional impact, conceptual strength, originality, storytelling, and engagement of the viewer – all are essential.

I was particularly intrigued by one work that brings new insight into lives unseen and voices unheard. It’s for this reason that I’m awarding the Recognition of Excellence to Georgy and Bitty’s Quarters by Carletta Carrington Wilson. This book without words conveys a story powerfully, including the inability of the characters in the book’s title to read or write. The choice of materials, the use of old carpet as a hinge, the simplicity of the composition – all referenced “outsider” and folk art as well as evoking a poignant story that is intentionally not spelled out. I felt strong emotions when “reading” the book, including anger, frustration, deep sorrow, as well as an abiding sense of mystery. We will never truly know this story, yet it’s right there in our hands. This is a story that needs to be told, over and over. Here it is told with grace and feeling.

I want to acknowledge a few more of the many wonderful works in the exhibit, not in alphabetical order, but in order of walking around the room:

  • Lucia Harrison and Deborah Greenwood, Finding our Way in Paper, a wonderfully whimsical path traced by their papermaking collaboration
  • Mary Ashton’s False Shelter, an impeccably constructed and lettered object whose concept and form are perfectly united.
  • Bonnie Thompson Norman’s Ballet Box and Be The Change – a seamless merging of structure and content, united with immaculate typography
  • Judy Lynn, The Summer of ’99, creating a mystery, a hush, a claustrophobic compression with a book that does not open and clearly contains a big secret…
  • Kim Izenman, Red – pure, whispering delicacy, a tiny gem
  • Victoria Bjorklund, Cinematic Silents – elegant, atmospheric, and the perfect use of metallic gold
  • Lynn Skordal, The Needle and the Sword: The Early Women’s Movement in Twenty-Four Hankies – a tour de force, a perfect example of the more-is-more embroidery coupled with an insightful look at women’s history
  • Malpina Chan, The Alchemy of the Morning Glory, a skillful combination of ready-made objects transmuted into a metaphor for transformation
  • Lynne Knopp, The Science and Art of Being Cultured, a true leap ahead in book construction, a wonderful double-entendre of “culture”, providing a new look at the phrase, “this book is unique.” Sure is.
  • Pam Gazale, Untitledpure concept, no pillars.
  • Laura Russell, Magnificent Beast, impeccable construction, lyrical storytelling, a wonderfully fresh retelling of an ancient myth. Powerful contrast of an “ancient” tale with jarringly modern images.
  • Gabrielle Cooksey, The Book of Penumbra, classic book design paired with shaped text/concrete poetry.
  • Chandler O’Leary, Sketchbook: Nooks and Crannies, sumptuous, spirited illustrations
  • Becky Frehse, Tunisian Blues – In Memory of Monia, powerful evocation of memory and love, enhanced by illustration, object, and handwritten text
  • Jan Dove, Waterbook, another evolutionary conceptual step in book arts – a floating book! – I would have loved to see it in a tank in the library

It’s important to mention that every juror has her own predilections. These comments reflect mine – strength of concept, love of typography, a promoter of invention and innovation – and of course do not constitute any kind of absolute judgment. All of this work is extraordinary, and all artists included should be very proud of their work.

In addition to enjoying a well-curated and beautifully displayed exhibit, I felt the strong sense of community that PSBA has established in its six short years. I’m very impressed by the connections that the organization has made with artists in the region and beyond. And I appreciate the UPS Library’s support of the show very much.

Thank you for the opportunity to have such an intimate look at the show. And congratulations, curators!

- Ellen Ziegler