September 18th, 2012
The other day, I received an email from a blogger at a website that offers information on online educational resources, the Online Education Database. They let me know that they really enjoyed my blog! I was very pleased, because I always wonder who reads it and whether the information is useful. The email included a post they created on the 20 Most Impressive University Special Collections.
It is worth looking at to see what some of the premier Special Collections have to offer. For example, Trinity College in Dublin houses the original Book of Kells, and Oberlin College has a huge collection of music. Not surprisingly, Yale and Harvard are on the list as well, with their broad collections that have been hundreds of years in the making. They also include the Jazz Archives at Tulane, which not only houses music, but also, the devices to play it on. The Comic Arts Collection at Virginia Commonwealth is included, as well. There are some I would add to the list, including the Popular Culture collections at Michigan State University and Ohio State. And quite a few colleges and universities have very large collections of Artists’ Books, including our own SCAD Atlanta’s ACA Library.
Well, we may not have collections that make the top 20, but we are the only college or university to have the huge archive of an animation studio, the Don Bluth Collection of Animation. We have a rapidly growing collection of Artists’ Books. We collect Graphic non-fiction and limited edition graphic novels. We have a little of everything in the rare book world. We are very proud of our excellent Special Collections here at the Jen Library and love to share it!
June 15th, 2012
Recently, we were lucky to find a few more publications by the Ashantilly Press of Darien, Georgia, for sale from rare book vendors and purchase them for the library. That leaves only a few more titles that were either printed by the Ashantilly Press, or designed by Bill Haynes, owner of the press, but printed somewhere else to complete our collection. The press produced some beautiful publications, done more as a labor of love than as a profit making venture. Haynes set the type and carved the woodcuts to illustrate each publication. He also printed publications for organizations such as churches, historical associations, community groups, etc. And he printed invitations and cards for himself and others.
The Ashantilly Press was named after the house, Ashantilly, built in 1820 by Thomas Spalding in Darien, Georgia. It became the property of the Haynes Family in 1918 and they rebuilt the house after a fire in the late 1930s. The press was founded in the mid 1950s. The first project was a broadside of the plan of Fort King George in 1955. His first book project, a reprint of Anchored Yesterdays, came shortly after that. It took him almost a year to design and print the book. The book was entered into the Southern Book Competition and won. Anchored Yesterdays is about the first 100 years of Savannah’s history told in 10 “watches.” This account of the early history of the city from the arrival of the first ship through the rise of importance of Savannah as a port is nicely designed and bound in paper covers. The book does not contain an edition statement, but was published in 1956.
Our Ashantilly Press Collection, MS 029, contains books, broadsides, cards, ephemera and other publication of the Ashantilly Press and other presses. The books were published between 1940 and 1991 and include books that William G. Haynes published at the Ashantilly Press, as well as those he illustrated or designed which were published by other presses. The collection also contains correspondence between William G. Haynes and Dr. Lawrence S. Thompson, former director of libraries at the University of Kentucky. The correspondence dates between 1966 and 1984. Also included is the acceptance speech presented by Haynes on accepting the Rock Howard Award in 1983.
Our three newest books are all poetry and, while they are all nicely done, one in particular is very beautiful: To Dwell in Sound, by Jean Reti. She was an Associate Professor of piano at the University of Georgia. She was married first to Austrian composer and musicologist, Rudolph Reti, and after his death, married artist, W. Stanton Forbes. Her beautifully produced book of poetry is dedicated to the memory of Rudolph Reti. Haynes decorated each part with a beautiful historiated initial in a deep blue. The paper he used was handmade Tovil with a watermark. The book was published in an edition of 100, the library’s copy is 72.
Over a span of several years, the press printed thirty titles, the last in 1991. Haynes died in 2001, leaving the house, Ashantilly, and his printing press to his foundation, the Ashantilly Center, which hosts environmental, cultural, and historic events. The press is being restored and soon will be offering workshops.
June 7th, 2012
A couple of years ago, we ordered an interesting artists’ book by a cooperative of Mayan men and women in Chiapas, Mexico, called The Portable Mayan Altar. In a box shaped like a Mayan thatched roof hut with its blend of art, poetry, magic, and culture, it was an instant hit. The vendor’s information mentioned that the cooperative was called Taller Leñateros, and it was founded by Ambar Past. A little research on the internet helped us to find that Ambar Past was an American who went to Mexico as a teacher of natural dye techniques for the National Indian Institute. She traveled to remote areas, eventually making her home in San Cristóbal de Las Casas in the highlands of Chiapas. There she founded a graphic arts collective, Taller Leñateros, which makes paper and books.
Part of her work for the past 30 years has been collecting, recording, and translating Tzotsil poetry and music, and collaborating on bilingual anthologies published by Taller Leñateros. The collective recycles a variety of materials to make handmade paper, some of which is sculpted into various sculptural shapes as book covers. They also silk-screen the illustrations for the books, then print and bind the books.
We decided to further explore the publications of this seemingly unlikely publisher of artists books and recently purchased two more. Here is a little about each of them:
Incantations by Mayan Women, Fathermothers of the Book: Ámbar Past with Xun Okotz and Xpetra Ernándes.
OVER A HUNDRED AND FIFTY PEOPLE COLLABORATED to write, illustrate, and create this book, among them singers, seers, witchwives, washer women, sugar beer brewers, conjurers, native bearers, prayer makers, soothsayers, sorceresses, dyers, diviners, hired mourners, spinners, shepherdesses, babysitters, millers, maids, bookbinders, spellbinders, cornharvesters, great-grandmothers, sharecroppers, necromancers, exorcists, coffee pickers, potters, crazy women, midwives, planters, woodlanders, bonesetters, troublemakers, spiritualists, mothers-in-law, peddlers, gravediggers, fireworks makers, drinkers, hags, beggars, bakers, basket weavers, shamanesses, liars, computers, comagres, sculptresses, muses, and even men. We have made this book “as we make our children,” in the words of Petú Xantis, “with the strength of our flesh and the birds of our heart.
From “Notes on the Creators” essay in the book. The three-dimensional cover is modeled after the face of Kaxail, Mayan goddess of the wilderness, and made of recycled cardboard mixed with corn silk and coffee. The book itself is in several parts. The incantations are in English and in Tzotzil. There are over 70 pages of original silkscreen illustrations by Mayan painters and it is estimated that the book took 30 years to create.
Portable Mayan altar: pocket books of Mayan spells, translation from Tzotzil to English by Ámbar Past.
A box shaped like a traditional Mayan house, holds the altar and its accessories: candles, candleholders, incense and burner, and three books. The books, Hex to Kill the Unfaithful Man, Mayan Love Charms, and Magic for a Long Life, are excerpted from Incantations by Mayan Women.
The books, small and bound in paper covered boards, have beautifully marbled end leaves and silk screened illustrations. The spells and charms are in both English and Tzotzil. Each book has a ribbon bookmark attached to aid in finding your favorite spell, like the spell to keep the dog from barking at your boyfriend.
Bolom Chon, [translation and texts in English, Ámbar Past with Sara Miranda and Tom Slingsby ; texts in Tzotzil Maya [by] Maria Tzu, Rominka Vet and Maruch Méndes Péres].
This vibrant book about the jaguar is marketed as a children’s book, but it is really for anyone. The text in both English and Tzotzil, is inspired by the song, Bolom Chon, about a magical creature. It has original silkscreened illustrations by Mayan artists and a jaguar with maguey fiber whiskers pop-up centerfold. Included is a CD recording of Tzotzil children singing with their grandmother. The cover, printed on an 1895 era letterpress, is made from recycled cardboard mixed with coffee. According to the Taller Leñateros: “The cover was stepped on by the Bolom Chon so its footprints remained as a testimony of its passing through the world.” It comes housed in a colorful jaguar case.
March 11th, 2008
Gary Goldman and the Bluth Collection
In January, almost as soon as we got back from the holidays, Gary Goldman arrived. He has been Don Bluth’s partner since before they both left Disney and was the co-donor of the amazingly huge Don Bluth Collection of Animation. He was beginning his time as Artist in Residence and was planning to use the Bluth Collection for his classes. He wanted to use materials mainly from Banjo the Woodpile Cat and from Dragon’s Lair. We were thrilled to have him here and even though it wasn’t always easy to find the materials he needed, it was a pleasure to have him here at SCAD. He borrowed a number of drawings and with our work study student, Severin’s assistance, made more copies than I think were usually allowed for a Professor. I hear the students in his class learned a lot and developed a new respect for the classical animator. With the quarter drawing to a close, we are sad to see him leaving again so soon.
The Comic Book and Graphic Novel Collections
SCAD Professor Catherine C. Cupps donated a large collection of graphic novels and comic books to the department late last fall, and they are now in the department awaiting cataloging. There are some great titles in the collection and even though they are not yet cataloged, they are listed.
Esteban Fuertes also sent another installment of his collection, which arrived in January. He was a collector of both comics and graphic novels, with only DC and Vertigo titles. This collection is also not cataloged, but is listed, and if you have an interest in a particular title, we are happy to see if we have the issues for you.
We received a fun donation of zines and mini-comics produced by SCAD students. They are mostly self published and were donated by the SCAD Chapter of the Society for Collegiate Journalists. The publications have been cataloged in our system (call number MS 032). We hope this becomes an ongoing tradition.
Visual Resources Center Uses Special Collections Materials to Promote Black History Month
While our collection of Benny Andrews, MS 011, is not large, it does have some very nice images of his work. Benny Andrews (1930-2006) was a Georgia artist whose unique folksy style showed an unexpected sophistication. For Black History Month, the Visual Resources Center has added several of our images to their database. Visit their blog and take a look at what they added.
The history of photography in Savannah is largely unwritten, but we would like to change that someday. We have added a number of stereoviews of Savannah to our collection through EBay purchases. We have also added a number of cabinet photographs from various Savannah photographers. Stereoviews are usually landscapes and street scenes with a unique quality of being able to appear three dimensional when viewed through a special device. Cabinet photos are usually albumen prints of portraits mounted on hard cardstock and often carrying an advertisement for the photographer or studio that took the image. Both gained popularity in the latter half of the 19th century.
We are very pleased to announce our first collaborative project with the Visual Resources Center (VRC). We are selecting a number of slides from the Myrtle Jones Collection to be added to the SCAD Digital Image Database. Gretchen will be working closely with the VRC to describe the images and help make them available. Myrtle Jones (1913-2005), a local artist well known in Savannah for her landscapes and portraits, was also an excellent photographer. Her photos were for her own use in research for her painting, but when we saw what a perfect snapshot in time they represented, we knew they had to be shared. Images include Forsyth Park, neighborhoods and buildings, street scenes, and the river front. Look for these in the SCAD Digital Image Database soon.
We are always excited to share the Don Bluth Collection with all who would like to see it. The materials were donated to SCAD to be a resource for all students. The collection contains materials for animation, illustration, concept art, character design, sequential arts, storyboarding, advertising, and many other disciplines. The backgrounds are often so beautifully done that they could be proudly hung on anyone’s wall. Ray Goto, Professor in Sequential Art, has been a vocal advocate for the collection. We appreciate that almost every quarter, he brings his classes in to see and be inspired by the collection. We would love to see other professors bring their classes in as well. Please call or stop by if you are interested. We are sure we can find more than enough materials to share.