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Students Make Marvelous Books

Students Make Marvelous Books

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

Book crafted by Angelo Jeon 23 EFS, called Passport, draws parallels between a passport and a novel

Passport by Angelo Jeon 23 EFS draws parallels between a passport and a novel.

This story has been updated to reflect changes in campus operations this spring due to COVID-19.

THE DEVASTATING EFFECTS OF SLAVERY inform Keep the Family Together, an intriguing book made of fabric and embroidery floss that earned the grand prize in the 2020 Baker & Whitehill Student Artists’ Book Contest and Exhibition.

“The quilt format depicts the fragmented pieces” of the lives of enslaved peoples, explains Olivia Stoltzfus 23 EFS, who made the book in a first-year studio taught by Senior Critic Judith Maloney. It also alludes to historians’ attempts to patch together inaccurate representations of America’s complicated past.

Olivia Stoltzfus 23 EFS's book, Keep the Family Together
Olivia Stoltzfus’ book Keep the Family Together won the grand prize.

Now in its sixth year, the annual competition and exhibition at the Fleet Library at RISD has grown steadily in popularity.

“We had many more entries this year than last,” says Special Collections Librarian Claudia Covert. She also notes that the number of artists applying for tables at the library’s Unbound art book fair (which is now taking place virtually on April 11) has more than doubled.

Book project by Chencheng Liu 23 EFS

Book project by Sumin Chung 23 EFS
work by first-year students Chencheng Liu 23 EFS and Sumin Chung 23 EFS

In addition to the grand prize (which earned Stoltzfus $500), three projects earned prizes of $375 and an additional three earned $100 honorable mentions. Guest juror May Babcock, an interdisciplinary artist who also teaches papermaking workshops, selected one-of-a-kind books that combine originality and whimsy while telling a powerful story.

Period note(pads) book by Yukti Agarwal 23 EFS

Among the most original of this year’s submissions is period note(pads) by another first-year student, Yukti Agarwal 23 EFS, who wove her story together using tampons and sanitary napkins. Her graphic approach earned the Award for Innovative Materials.

Book project by Ruyue Qi 23 EFS

Book project by Denise Evans 23 EFS
work by Ruyue Qi 23 EFS and Denise Evans 23 EFS

The $375 Laurie Whitehill Prize went to junior Stephanie Wu 21 IL, who overcame feelings of isolation and incompetence through music. She shares her very personal journey via 2019: 20–21, a series of risographs and letterpress prints on handmade paper.

Marina Kishkovich CEC 19 GD took home the $375 American Printing History Prize for Frankenstein Bicentennial, an accordion-style piece on mulberry paper built around the concept of loneliness.

Book project by Yvonne Liang 23 EFS

Book project by Lindi Shi MFA 20 PR
work by Yvonne Liang 23 EFS and Lindi Shi MFA 20 PR

And this year’s honorable mentions went to Oddities Carousel, a digitally drawn, handprinted book by first-year student Yvonne Liang 23 EFS; I see 112'07'' by Printmaking grad student Lindi Shi MFA 20 PR; and Read from the Last Page by Illustration senior Yiqun Zhou 20 IL.

All of this year’s winning pieces will become part of the library’s growing collection of extraordinary artists’ books.

Simone Solondz / photos by Connor Parsley 20 FAV