2008 // Inspired Design: The Mentoring Stamp

Inspired Design:  The Mentoring Stamp
August 10 through December 20, 2008
Smith College – Book Arts Gallery, Neilson Library
Northampton, MA
Exhibit Catalog – Inspired Design: The Mentoring Stamp Catalog

Cathy Adelman, Eric Alstrom, Jeff Altepeter, Alegria Barclay, Emma Bates, Barbara Blumenthal, David R. Bourbeau, Barbara Ann Caine, Carol Joan Ceraldi, Sarah Creighton, Lesa Dowd, Sam Ellenport, Peter Geraty, Penelope J. Hall, Barbara Halporn, Karen Hanmer, Barbara Adams Hebard, Deborah Howe, Andrew Huot, Kiyoshi Imai, C.L. Ingalls, Nancy Ruth Leavitt and Joelle Leavitt Webber, Amanda Nelsen, Nancy H. Nitzberg, Patricia Owen, Todd Pattison, James Reid-Cunningham, Gerritt Vanderwerker, Stephanie Wolff

Curated by Barbara B. Blumenthal, Mortimer Rare Book Room at Smith College, and our chapter exhibitions chair, Barbara Adams Hebard, this set book exhibition featured bindings by members of the New England Chapter of the Guild of Book Workers.  Each binder interpreted the same text: Designing the Mentoring Stamp by Lance Hidy, designed by Michael Russem and published by his Kat Ran Press in 2007.

During a visit in 2006 to view a Janus Press retrospective at Smith College, Barbara Adams Hebard suggested that the Mortimer Rare Book Room host an exhibition of work by members of the New England Chapter of the Guild of Book Workers. In response I mentioned a forthcoming book from the Kat Ran Press which could be available in sheets for binders. The result is Inspired Design: The Mentoring Stamp, the New England Chapter’s first set book exhibition. Rather than submitting books relating to a theme, binders were invited to each interpret the same publication. Thirty book workers chose to bind Designing the Mentoring Stamp, written by Lance Hidy. An acknowledged artist, typographer, and type designer, Hidy has penned an eloquent and insightful discourse about design, color, and aesthetics. The focus is his creation of the Mentoring a Child stamp, issued in 2002 by the U.S. Postal Service. Michael Russem’s elegant typographic design is as thoughtful as Hidy’s text.

The Smith College Mortimer Rare Book Room is delighted to host Inspired Design, the seventh New England Chapter member’s exhibition since 1982. These varied bindings are a testament to the enduring and creative book arts community both in and beyond this region of the U.S. You’ll notice that a number of the binders were intrigued by the perforated edges of postage stamps and used this motif in their designs. But this is just one decorative element, and there is a wide range of materials, techniques, and styles which gives each binding its unique take on Hidy’s text and Russem’s design. I hope that you will enjoy seeing the many variations which the collaboration of Lance Hidy and Michael Russem have inspired.

Martin Antonetti, the curator of rare books at Smith College, Lance Hidy, and Michael Russem each selected a favorite binding from the exhibition, and their choices are noted in this catalogue. Although not documented pictorially here, the exhibition was complemented by the display of a number of Lance Hidy’s posters, with preliminary drawings and his original hand lettering, progressive sketches and color trials for Hidy’s three postage designs, stamps created by other typeface designers (on loan from Michael Russem), and some philatelic items in the collections of the Mortimer Rare Book Room.

Barbara B. Blumenthal, Book Arts Specialist
Mortimer Rare Book Room, Smith College

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