News and Events

Handcrafted Gems

Handcrafted Gems

Submissions to the eighth annual Baker & Whitehill Student Artists’ Book Contest beautifully marry craft and content.

prize-winning artists' book by Jinghong Chen

My Grandmother by junior Jinghong Chen 23 IL won this year's Grand Purchase Prize.

“When I’m evaluating artists’ books submitted by students, I think about how the experience of the piece and the craft marry with the story and overall idea,” says Special Collections Librarian Claudia Covert. The driving force behind the Fleet Library’s annual Baker & Whitehill Student Artists’ Book Contest & Exhibition, Covert emceed this year’s virtual awards ceremony in late February recognizing all 369 entries and presenting cash prizes to the winners.

Lee Nurdles submission showing an orange fish

Facts About Lakes  book
Nurdles by Sharon Lee 25 EFS (above) and Facts About Lakes by Saraphina Forman BRDD 26 EFS (below).

The Grand Purchase Prize ($500) went to Jinghong Chen 23 IL, whose intricately cut and meticulously crafted My Grandmother (see top photo) used vellum paper and other aptly selected elements to evoke nostalgia and memory. Local printmaker, RISD alum and guest juror Lois Harada 10 PR was taken with the book’s overall impression and also appreciated that the story was told in both English and Chinese.

Clocks in Space book

alternative view of Clocks in Space
The prize-winning Clocks in Space by first-year student Pei-Jung Hsieh 25 EFS.

The $375 Laurie Whitehill Purchase Prize went to first-year student Pei-Jung Hsieh 25 EFS, whose brilliantly constructed Clocks in Space sheds light on satellites. “The form of this book really matches its intent,” says Harada.

abstract cover design on Ghost Bikes

I Want to Be a Pig
APHA Purchase Prize winner Ghost Bikes (above) by Elizabeth Long 24 IL and Want to Be a Pig by Yinjia Liu 25 EFS.

The American Printing History Association’s (APHA) Purchase Prize (also in the amount of $375) was presented by New England Chapter President Alice Beckwith, who was once again blown away by the quality of the submissions. “For eight years, RISD students have delighted us with amazing designs that touch our visual, emotional and intellectual sensibilities,” she says. Ghost Bikes, a book by sophomore Elizabeth Long 24 IL memorializing people killed in bicycle accidents, nabbed this year’s APHA prize.

plexiglass artist book by Pan and Li

painted artist book by Goldhagen
Librarian's Choice prize winner A Modern Retelling of Little Red Riding Hood by Robbie Li MADE 22 and Kennice Pan 23 IL (above) and Untitled by Ashna Reddy 25 EFS.

A collaboration between grad student Robbie Li MADE 22 and junior Kennice Pan 23 IL, A Modern Retelling of Little Red Riding Hood rode away with the $250 Librarian’s Choice Purchase Prize. “This book has such a nice tactile element and there’s an amazing sound as the pages clack together,” Harada notes. “And I love how you can take the pages apart and then put them back together in any order to change the narrative.”

accordion-style artist's book

fluffy book about clouds

classic artist's book by Naya Lee Chang
Honorable mentions by Yadelis Gomez 25 EFS, Zimu Fang 25 EFS and Naya Lee Chang BRDD 24 FD.

How Does it Feel to Have Clouds Swoop in Your Face by Zimu Fang 25 EFS, Zone: Apollinaire, Simpson, Chang by Naya Lee Chang BRDD 24 FD and February 14, 2018 by Yadelis Gomez 25 EFS each earned an honorable mention and a $100 prize. Harada describes Fang’s piece as “a playful and tactile take on clouds” and fell hard for Chang’s accordion book and the beautiful box that contains it. “It was such an honor to be asked to serve as juror,” she adds.

Simone Solondz / photos by Hannah Nigro 23 PH

All of the artists’ books are on view at the Fleet Library through April 28.

Related stories

Voices from the Archives

Fleet Library at RISD digitizes hundreds of historic lectures and interviews now available to the public online.

Underground Comix Meet the Fleet

Noted journalist and hip-hop documentarian Bill Adler gifts RISD his thousand-item collection of subversive comics and related ephemera.

Students Make Marvelous Books

Winners in the library’s annual Baker & Whitehill Student Artists’ Book Contest join its extraordinary and growing collection.