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Most Common Themes

Which themes do most books in this collection cover?

Exploring relationships between artists, printers, presses and other contributors in this collection led us to wonder: are there common themes that many book artists work with in their art making? We mapped general subject areas in our data, aggregating books generally by the areas that their content and art explored. We discovered one topic which was much more representative than others. While specific subjects vary from flora and fauna, to family memories on the lakeside, fishing, the rhythm of waves and water, and to environmental consciousness, much of Vanderbilt’s collection of southern artists’ books focuses on nature. 


MATCH (a)-[:CREATED]->(u:Book)
RETURN u.term AS Theme, count(u.term) AS Num_Books
ORDER BY count(u.termDESC















Andy Farkas. River

(Asheville, NC. 2010)
Andy Farkas
Southern Civilization Collection
Vanderbilt University Special Collections

Andy Farkas says about River, “[this is a] book about a river who wants to stop flowing and the ramifications of such an action. The story itself is a cyclical story, in that, once finished, the story may be begun again. There are nine prints in the book each using between five and ten different color blocks and printed in the japanese style of Moku Hanga, which is the art of printing woodblocks with watercolor pigments and rice paste rather than oil based inks … The text itself is made from rubbings of relief type onto interleaving transparent sheets of paper which mimic both the transparency of the water as well as the sound of water made as the page is turned.”

Days Have Gone By
(Tallahassee, FL. 2010)
Colin Frazer
Southern Civilization Collection
Vanderbilt University Special Collections

Colin Frazer spent a month in the gulf coast of Florida exploring the landscape and its patterns.  He then translated those patterns into the pages of his artist's book, Days Have Gone By. Frazer laser cut wood blocks, printed on the Small Craft Advisory Press’s Vandercook, and bound his unique book that not only includes wood block prints and laser cut pages, but also a unique sound composition culled from his travels in the Florida wild, that can be activated by touch on the inside of the front cover.

<em>Fish in the Sky, OH MY!</em>

Mary Rezny. Fish in the Sky, OH MY!

Fish in the Sky, OH MY!
(Lexington, KY. 2010)
Mary Rezny
Southern Civilization Collection
Vanderbilt University Special Collections

Fish in the Sky, OH MY! by artist Mary Rezny takes on a star structure of six panels. The imagery, photographs of cumulus clouds, acts as a dimensional background from which cut-out photographs of brightly painted fish models extend. Rezny’s use of pop-up structures and her fascinating assemblages of photographs create sculptural books that tell a story through juxtaposition and play.

The Kudzu Chronicles

Beth Ann Fennelly, Sara Owen. The Kudzu Chronicles

The Kudzu Chronicles
(Tuscaloosa, AL: Crown Ring Press. 2005)
Beth Ann Fennelly, Sara G. H. Owen
Southern Civilization Collection
Vanderbilt University Special Collections

Handmade cotton and bugra papers fill The Kudzu Chronicles, a collaborative book designed and printed by book artist Sara Owen, with poetry by Beth Ann Fennelly. Owen says “Driving south on the highways of the Carolinas, Georgia, and Alabama last summer, I was captivated by the botanical phenomenon known as kudzu. Never before had I seen a plant that makes curtains of its vines on roadsides, blankets medians, and drapes itself onto trees. I wanted to make a book about kudzu." Both a tribute to southern landscapes and to poetic expressions of nature, this work is an exemplar among books on nature from the collection.