Bringing Comics to the Conference, a NYARC librarian’s experience with planning the 2018 Contemporary Artists’ Book Conference

  • Posted on Oct 30, 2018 by

I had the privilege of serving on the planning committee for the 2018 Contemporary Artists’ Books Conference in New York City. This event was free and open to the public. It was held in conjunction with the annual New York Art Book Fair, which is sponsored by Printed Matter. The planning committee for the conference consisted of nine art librarians from the New York metropolitan area who have an interest in artists’ books. Among the committee members was Kamaria Hatcher, the NYARC Kress Fellow for Public Services at the time of the conference. Each member of the committee was encouraged to plan their own panel session, or to take on an administrative role such as coordinating with the venue or handling the budget. Thanks to generous donations from Phil Aarons and Stephen Bury, and funds donated in memory of Horace H. Solomon we were able to invite fifteen panelists to present on various topics. The lineup of sessions included: Avalanche Magazine, Diasporic Print Space, Queer Publishing as Community Practice, Comics are Books by Artists, and Vernacular Photography and Narrative. Past Contemporary Artists’ Books Conferences have taken place in the theater room of MoMA PS1. This year the Long Island City location of Bookculture kindly donated the space for the conference. The venue was only a short walk from the book fair at MoMA PS1, and it gave conference attendees a respite from the crowds at the fair. 

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Bill Kartalopoulos, moderator for the panel Comics Are Books by Artists, interviews artist David Sandlin while demonstrating his work to audience members. Photo: Giana Ricci

Comics have always been an interest of mine, and I was very eager at the thought of putting together a panel related to comics and artists’ books. The moderator of Comics are Books by Artists, Bill Kartalopoulos, is a critic, educator, curator, and editor who recently co-edited the anthology The Best American Comics 2018. Bill was able to use his vast professional network to invite book and comic artists Aidan Koch and David Sandlin as well as publisher Lisa Pearson from Siglio Press. The panel discussion focused on each person’s work, but it also discussed how the mediums of so-called fine arts and comics often influence each other more than we may think. The work of both Aidan Koch and David Sandlin can be found in the collections of the Brooklyn Museum Libraries and Archives and the Museum of Modern Art Library.

My experience serving on this year’s planning committee is one of learning and collaboration. My colleagues who worked alongside me to put together this conference are all incredibly intelligent, hardworking, and creative. I feel grateful for the chance to work with these people and to make new connections at the conference and look forward to collaborating on another successful conference next year!

For more information, please visit the Programs section of the New York Art Book Fair website.

Giana Ricci, Assistant Librarian for Public Services, Frick Art Reference Library

Banner image: CABC planning committee member Catherine Feliz introduces members of the  Diasporic Print Space panel. Pictured from left: Catherine Feliz, PJ Gubatina Policarpio, Stephanie Orentas, Lizania Cruz, and Bilphena Yahwon. Photo: Giana Ricci

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