Since its recognition as a distinctive region in the late 19th century, Appalachia has been a source of enduring myths and distortions regarding the isolation, temperament and behavior of its inhabitants. Early 20th-century writers focused on sensational aspects, such as moonshining and clan feuding, and often portrayed the region’s inhabitants as uneducated and prone to impulsive acts of violence.The story as depicted in this collection begins in the colonial era, describing the bloody warfare as migrants from Europe and their American-born offspring fought and eventually displaced Appalachia’s Native American inhabitants. It depicts the evolution of a farm- and forest-society, its divided and unhappy fate during the Civil War and the emergence of a new industrial order as railroads, towns and mining industries penetrated into the mountains. Diaries, journals and narratives of explorers, emigrants, military men, Native Americans and travelers are complemented by accounts of the development of farming and mining communities, family histories and folklore.
An artist’s book is a work of art that takes the form of a book. But what does that mean? And what counts as a book, anyway? Is it a bunch of pages that have been bound together, or is there more to it than that?
These are the kinds of questions that artists’ books try to answer. They play with both the form and the function of books as objects, encouraging onlookers to question traditional conceptualizations of “books.” They are usually handmade, often unique, and all different from one another. Because most artist’s books are hand-made and only crafted in small, limited runs, they offer artists a special opportunity to create books that are intensely personal.
All of the books featured in this exhibit are part of Miami University’s Walter Havighurst Special Collections. The materials on display reflect a concentrated effort to build a diverse, provocative collection that will challenge students to reconsider their notion of “books” while also paying tribute to the creativity and innovation of book artists across the globe.
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