Photographs by Jay York
Recently the MSM acquired a very special book in a most unusual format.
In 2018, fifteen women from the Critique Group at the University of Southern Maine’s Kate Cheney Chappell ‘83 Center for Book Arts began work on a collaborative project to celebrate both the state’s bicentennial and the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment (women’s suffrage) — coincidentally, the subjects of two recent MSM exhibitions!
Completed in 2019, the collectively created book honors some of Maine’s remarkable women through distinctive individual artists’ panels. Each artist drew on her individual strengths and creative vision, while incorporating a variety of mixed artistic media, including watercolor, collage, printing, and three-dimensional paper forms.
Sections are devoted to a range of individuals in literature, the arts, science, and humanitarian work. In choosing their focal subject, artists selected individuals who inspired them or with whom they felt a particular connection.
The resulting accordion book features 15 individual inserted Turkish map folds, mixed media on Canson Mi-Teintes paper, with paste paper covers, title calligraphy, and tipped in colophon. When fully extended, the book reaches 90” (228 cm) in length.
Members of the Critique Group regret that, given length limitations, both subjects and artists had to be limited in number and thus could not reflect Maine’s diversity – and notable women, both current and historical – to the extent they might have wished.
The Critique Group was founded in 2008 and includes artists who have a connection to USM and who share a passion for making artists’ books. The group regularly works on at least one collaborative project each year. Remarkable Maine Women was the first book produced in an edition of five.
The Maine State Museum is proud to be one of the local and national libraries and museums to receive this generous gift.
In addition to the collaborative book, each member of the Critique Group created a separate artists’ book on their subject. Several of these will be on exhibit at the Thomas Memorial Library in Cape Elizabeth, Nov. 1 through Dec. 31, 2021.
A Friends Annual Meeting in January 2022 will place a spotlight on the book.