Art Beat: Celebrating The Art Of The Book

Mar 26, 2020

An example of an "accordion" book at the Kalamazoo Book Arts Center
Credit Courtesy KBAC

Books, in one form or another, have been around almost as long as the human race, along with our need to share stories. The Kalamazoo Book Arts Center celebrates its 15th anniversary this year.

KBAC Administrative Director Lorrie Grainger Abdo and Studio Manager Katie Platte spoke recently about some of the Center’s most popular events celebrating the book arts.

Abdo says the anniversary is important, "That’s a big milestone for us. As administrative director, I help write grants. I plan educational programming, anything that has to do with keeping us going day to day. I’m one of three employees. We all work part-time and we all also teach both children’s and adult programming.”

Katie Platte says, “I help the interns and guide them through their internships, I hang exhibits and plan exhibits with our director, Jeff Abshear. I do the website, and whatever comes up, I try to fix it!”

KBAC is located in downtown Kalamazoo in the historic Park Trades Center. Along with classes and workshops in printmaking, paper making, and book binding with a letter press, KBAC also hosts nationally and internationally acclaimed artists and writers. Some of its colorful annual events include the popular Edible Book Festival featuring books created out of food (now canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic) and "The Illustrated Accordion," an exhibition of folding books, among others.

“'The Illustrated Accordion' is an exhibit of accordion books from around the United States and the world,” Platte says. “Accordion books are books made of panels that are folded together so that they can open up like a poster, which makes them really great for display.”

Platte says accordion books may date back to the very first books, when palm leaves were strung together to create individual panels that were then connected.

KBAC has scheduled its "The Illustrated Accordion" exhibit from May 1 to June 5, 2020, but check the Center's website for updates or cancellations because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Listen to WMUK's Art Beat every Friday at 7:50 a.m. and 4:20 p.m.