2020 // 40th Anniversary Exhibition

40th Anniversary Exhibition
Online Catalog

May 15 through August 7, 2021
Boston Athenaeum
Boston, MA

Eric Alstrom, Jeffrey Altepeter, Richard Baker, Barbara B. Blumenthal, Valerie Carrigan, Katrina Carye, Sam Ellenport, Mark Esser, Erin Fletcher, Jane Bortnick Griffith, Penelope Hall, Karen Hanmer, Nancy Leavitt, Yi Bin Liang, Elaine Nishizu, Graham Patten & Sarah Smith, Todd Pattison, Jennifer Pellecchia, James Reid-Cunningham, George Sargent, Patricia Sargent, Jackie Scott, Julie B. Stackpole, Colin Urbina, Gerritt VanDerwerker, Robert Walp, Joelle Webber, Stephanie Wolff, Pamela Wood

In 1980, the executive committee of the Guild of Book Workers unanimously decided to take a chance on a group of members in the New England area who wanted to create a regional chapter. They were given a year to prove themselves. At the time, 1/3 of the membership resided in New England and many of them had been meeting and organizing events for years. So it must have come to no surprise, that after their experimental year had passed, the chapter received the full support and financial assistance from the Guild. This action paved the way for the formation of other regional chapters, which in a way allowed the Guild itself to expand and support a wider community around the country.

I’ve had an opportunity to rummage through old Chapter documents and came across a letter written by Sam Ellenport who was nominated to be the Chapter’s first Chairmen. This letter, dated May 12, 1980, was one month before the Chapter’s very first official meeting and it reads:

“It is my hope that this will be the first of a continuing series of such meetings, where we can get to know each other, share some of our experiences, and openly discuss issues within our craft–issues about which we are all concerned. A general meeting such as this may well create a synergistic effect that will serve a wider purpose both within our region and within the scope of the national guild movement itself.”

Since taking on the role of Chapter Chair in 2016, my mission has been to continue with the traditions laid out before me to maintain and build a strong community. A community which has meant so much to me from the beginning of my career as I was ushered into a group that has continued to offer insights, support and encouragement. And in the last year, community has meant more to our members as we work in ways to stay connected during this unprecedented time of COVID-19.

Although we had planned to present an exhibit that would have been displayed in venues across New England, moving it online has allowed us to stay on our original timeline. By happenstance, this created an opportunity for some members to submit work influenced by our current circumstances. Making the choice to go online ensures that this exhibit becomes accessible to more people beyond the New England area and will allow us the opportunity to create programming that will be viewable by a greater audience.

This exhibition marks the 40th Anniversary of the New England Chapter and we wanted to capture the creative range and skills of our current membership who have been with the chapter anywhere from a single year to all forty. The work on display is a broad spectrum spanning traditional fine binding to innovative design bindings in addition to beautifully sculpted artist books and boxes. The creative force of our members is demonstrated by their ingenuity in re-imagining book forms, decorating in new ways and using unconventional materials. This community continues to inspire and amaze me. Enjoy the exhibit!

Erin Fletcher
Chapter Chair

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