Artists Books

Jean Toomer, 1894-1967
Martin Puryear, 1941

Cane. San Francisco: Arion Press, 2000.

This fine press, limited edition of Toomer’s classic work of literature was published by Arion Press, one of the most respected fine presses. The woodcut illustrations were done by famed African-American sculptor Martin Puryear. A first edition of Cane is on display elsewhere in this exhibition.

Martin Luther King, Jr, 1929-1968
C.T. Vivian, 1924
Faith Ringgold, 1930

Letter from Birmingham Jail. New York: The Limited Editions Club, 2007.

This fine press edition of King’s famous letter includes beautiful prints by renowned artist Faith Ringgold.

Sandra McPherson, 1943

Beauty in Use. Newark, Vt.: Janus Press, 1997.

This artist’s book is a set of poems inspired by the poet’s collection of African American quilts. Illustrator Claire Van Vliet used interlockng pieces of paper to form the beautiful quilt squares that accompany the poems.

Lucille Clifton, 1936-2010

Quilting: Poems, 1987-1990. Brockport, N.Y.: BOA Editions, 1991. First edition.

This collection by the late poet is divided into sections that are named for traditional quilt designs: log cabin, catalpa flower, eight-pointed star, tree of life, and prayer. It was selected to accompany the quilt-inspired artists' book Beauty in Use.

Tia Blassingame, 1971

Negroes: a Handbook. Providence, R.I.: Primrose Press, 2015.

Poet and book artist Tia Blassingame drew inspiration for the design of this book from sea glass and shells she collected on Martha’s Vineyard and along the Rhode Island coast. While the poems touch on many topics, some display her usual concern for African-American history and politics, as can be seen by the poem on the left page (“Chapter 7: Omission”).