Submissions to the eighth annual Baker & Whitehill Student Artists’ Book Contest beautifully marry craft and content.
RISD Artists’ Book Contest Winners Present Inspiring Personal Stories
From quilted fabric covers to hand-embroidered pages to laser-cut illustrations, the designs for this year’s Baker & Whitehill Student Artists’ Book Contest submissions express their makers’ points of view in unique and thought-provoking ways. The contest, hosted by Special Collections at the Fleet Library, aims to promote engagement with the book arts and expand the library’s growing artists’ book collection. While only four of the winning books will become part of the library’s permanent collection, all 68 entries will be displayed in the library through mid-May.
Special Collections Librarian Claudia Covert, who has overseen the contest since 2005, notes that the number of submissions received this year far outweighs the average of 45 entries per year. “With so many entries, it is hard to exhibit them all in our first-floor and balcony cases,” she says. Covert was moved by the wide variety of materials used in the pieces, including bricks and glass.
The juror for this year’s contest was artist Andre Lee Bassuet, who announced the winners at an awards ceremony in late February. Bassuet’s work explores the body, nature and memory through her lens as an artist raised in both South Korea and the US. Currently, she teaches bookbinding and printmaking at AS220 in Providence.
How to Tame a Jaguar, a story reflecting the Peruvian background of author and artist Ashley Castañeda 23 IL, earned the Grand Purchase Prize of $500. Castañeda’s book explores the concept of quariwarmi, shamans who effectively existed as non-binary in pre-Columbian Peru. “In my embroidered book, I made a poem to reflect the process of transforming into a jaguar,” Castañeda explains. “By doing so, I explored my own queerness in reconnecting with my cultural past.”
“In my embroidered book, I made a poem to reflect the process of transforming into a jaguar. By doing so, I explored my own queerness in reconnecting with my cultural past.”
The winner of the Laurie Whitehill Purchase Prize, first-year student Danielle Kim 27 EFS, wrote and designed 100 Days for Birth, a story about the migration of humpback whales from Hawaii to California. Shihan Zhu MFA 23 PR took home the New England Chapter Purchase Prize for Confession, a book designed around a poem written by the artist. “The poem reveals a private part of my heart that creates a silent and untouchable flow,” says Zhu. The book is encased in a glass piece Zhu made, which they say, “holds the book, like a piece of solid ice.”
Jacob Davidson 23 IL took home the last of the purchase prizes, the New England Chapter, for Wolves, a short story inspired by the cultural history of the artist’s ancestors. In addition to the purchase prizes, four artists were awarded $100 honorable mentions. While Snorkeling by Jinghong Chen 23 IL depicts the immersive underwater landscape of Kona, Hawaii, Jingjing Yang MFA 23 PR addresses an ancient myth about mengpo soup, creating a collection of “tears” representing obsessions and memories of a person’s life, in Sea of Tears.
Another book focused on memories comes from Zoe Maxwell 26 EFS, who wrote and designed Recorded in Fabric with quilted fabric and polyester stuffing as an ode to childhood nostalgia and family. And finally, Sun Ho Lee MFA 23 GD speaks to how war divided her family in North Korea in The Chronicles of Sameri.
—Isabel Roberts / photos by Emily Begin and Hannah Nigro