Holding Ground: Artists’ Books for the National Museum of Women in the Arts

A color photograph of two cases and wall frame containing sculptural artist's books against a blue wall.
Oct 21, 2023, to Oct 20, 2024

The book arts have always been at the heart of the collections of the Betty Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center (LRC) at NMWA. To inaugurate the museum’s new Learning Commons and its reinvigorated research center, the LRC commissioned new works from nine book artists, several of whom are based in the Washington, D.C., area.

Alisa Banks, Adjoa J. Burrowes, Julie Chen, Suzanne Coley, IBé Crawley, Maricarmen Solis Diaz, Colette Fu, Kerry McAleer-Keeler, and María Verónica San Martín reflect on spaces that foster women’s creative expression. Many of the works consider NMWA as a special and evolving place for art by women, now and into the future. Others remind viewers that creativity is expressed and uplifted in unexpected spaces, from small interiors such as Harlem kitchens to vast outdoor geographies such as Chile’s Atacama Desert. Above all, the artists’ books celebrate the spaces where women’s creativity blooms.

Upon the reopening of the museum on October 21, these books will be on view in a gallery adjacent to the library’s reading room. All will become part of the LRC’s renowned collection of artists’ books, as the library’s holdings continue to grow and highlight the rich creative traditions of NMWA and its community.

A woman with medium skin tone and dark hair wearing a black dress holds a large pop-up artist book, which unfolds in her hand and onto a table.

Artist Colette Fu shows off one of her artists' books.