TACOMA, Wash. – A collection of works by Shereen LaPlantz, internationally recognized artist, author, and teacher who helped bring handmade artists’ books to the attention of the public, is being donated to Collins Memorial Library at University of Puget Sound.
The more than 100 artists’ books, generously donated by Ken and Rochelle Monner of Tacoma, Wash., showcases the myriad of book structures developed by LaPlantz throughout her career.
LaPlantz’s recognition that book structures could be a combination of two- and three-dimensional formats and that they could tell their own story as well as provide information inspired her to write Cover To Cover: Creative Techniques for Making Beautiful Books, Journals & Albums in 1998. She also is known for her 2001 book, The Art and Craft of Handmade Books.
An art educator and personal friend of Rochelle Monner, LaPlantz taught hundreds of workshops on the art of the book and exhibited her work in galleries and museums throughout the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Europe, and Africa.
LaPlantz’s basketry and artists’ books are represented in numerous permanent collections, including The National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C. Until her death from cancer in 2003, the inventive and resilient artist worked from her studio in California. She was particularly inspired by the work of two other prominent book artists, Heidi Kyle and Kevin Smith.
The book techniques and structures made by LaPlantz and her students include pamphlet stitch, basic codex, stab binding, and fold books. The collection also includes examples of various forms of concertina and tunnel books. Many of them directly relate to examples depicted in LaPlantz’s instructive books about the art.
The New Mexico-based artist passed on the book collection to Rochelle Monner, who has used it as a foundation for many book art classes. Monner is one of the founding members of Puget Sound Book Artists, which won the City of Tacoma AMOCAT Art Award for community outreach by an organization. Monner is credited with establishing the organization’s first “play days,” which introduce book structures and formats to the community.
Collins Memorial Library Director Jane Carlin said the new collection greatly enhances the existing artists’ book collection and will serve as a tremendous teaching resource for Puget Sound students and the local community.
“Book structures are complicated, and these books will serve as models and inspire, as well as challenge, artists to engage in new ways to construct and design books,” she said.
Jessica Spring, a Tacoma educator and printer who owns Springtide Press, reflected on the legacy of Shereen LaPlantz:
“So many book artists launched their careers through workshops and books offered by LaPlantz. It is fantastic to have this resource here in Tacoma, available for study and inspiration."
The collection will be on display in Collins Memorial Library this fall. A reception is planned for October, 2017.
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