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Most Attended School

What school did the most artists attend?

The University of Alabama’s Book Arts Program was modeled after UA’s Creative Writing Program, so collaborations between book artists and writers have been a hallmark of the program from its start in 1985. Students learn all aspects of making books by hand, working with other students on campus as well as with presses in Cuba and the United States. These works combine visual arts and creative writing, such as in Sonia Greentree Rossow’s use of her own poetry or Michelle Ray’s complex forms to create a story about her maritime experiences and the maverick sailor Bernard Moitessier, who threw the first 'round the world solo sailing competition by sailing away from the finish line at the last minute. He stated, “...I am happy at sea, and perhaps because I want to save my soul."

With this query, we first asked our dataset which schools were most attended. Once it was determined that most artists attended the University of Alabama, we mapped those connections. 


START b=node(*)
RETURN AS Institution, count(u) AS Num_Artists
ORDER BY count(u) DESC




U of Alabama


Illinois Institute of Tech


Columbia U


U of Georgia



MATCH (a:Person)-[r:DEGREE_FROM]->(U_AL:Corpbody{name:'U of Alabama'})

<em>An Exquisite Future</em>

An Exquisite Future

An Exquisite Future
(Washington, DC: Marginalia Press. 2014)
Sarah McDermott (Editor)
Southern Civilization Collection
Vanderbilt University Special Collections

An Exquisite Future serves as a particularly poignant example of the influence of relationships in the book arts community, including the transfer of skill and technique in teaching and mentorship. This book was collaboratively created by students from the Art and the Book Graduate Program at the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design, George Washington University in the fall of 2014, under the guidance of instructor Sarah McDermott. McDermott, who received her MFA at the University of Alabama, has strong ties with the Alabama and Tuscaloosa book arts community, channeling her knowledge to a new cohort of emerging book artists.

<em>God Created the Sea and Painted It Blue so We'd Feel Good on It</em>

Michelle Ray. God Created the Sea and Painted it Blue so We'd Feel Good on It

God Created the Sea and Painted it Blue so We'd Feel Good on It
(Tallahassee, FL: Small Craft Advisory Press. 2013)
Michelle Ray
Southern Civilization Collection
Vanderbilt University Special Collections

Michelle Ray calls herself a Victorian naturalist. This tunnel book, her MFA project for the University of Alabama’s Book Arts Department, includes eleven pamphlets and a fold-out crew manifest. Ray wants to “name the unnamed” and understand “the world through documenting, cataloging, and connecting ideas." Blending her sailing experience with a love of Ben Franklin, Ray made an imaginary, cathartic journey in the space of mediation in book form to “the place for which there are no maps.”  


Sonja Greentree Rossow. Birch

(Gordo, AL: Curly Head Press. 2010)
Sonja Greentree Rossow
Southern Civilization Collection
Vanderbilt University Special Collections

Sonja Greentree Rossow creates small edition and unique handcrafted artist’s books and prints. As the wife of a military man, Rossow is influenced by the transient nature of her lifestyle and the natural landscapes that surround her at any given time. Like the others featured in this exhibition case, Rossow graduated with her MFA from the University of Alabama, tying her together with many other artists featured within Vanderbilt's collection of southern artists' books. In Birch, the artist pays homage to Birch trees, which are often described as pioneer species, as they colonize quickly in groupings. Rossow combines her poetry with handmade paper, made at Picante Paper Studio in San Antonio, Texas. The paper is itself a painting, combining pulp and fiber to add dimension to her images. 


Hank Lazer. Indivisible

(Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama; Havana, Cuba: Taller Experimental de Grafica. 2011)
Hank Lazer, César Peña Peralta, Daniel Alberto Rodriguez
Southern Civilization Collection
Vanderbilt University Special Collections

Querying our specific dataset produced nineteen artists with work in our collection who attended The University of Alabama’s Book Arts M.A.Program. Book artists Steve Miller and Anna Embry worked with poet Hank Lazar and Cuban artists from Taller Experimental de Grafica. Lazer recalled that they “recommended the Sharpie to me for its consistency of inking... The page size and paper texture are absolutely crucial to what I write…. each page as a one-time improvisation.... it is much more difficult to 'copy' a previously written page than to write it the first time.”