Colorado book art comes ‘Off the Shelf’ for new GAMA exhibit

off the shelf GAMA
Alicia Bailey's "Animal Mineral Vegetable 12" can be seen as part of the exhibition "Off the Shelf: Contemporary Book Arts in Colorado." Image courtesy of the artist.

This autumn, Colorado State University’s  Gregory Allicar Museum of Art  proudly presents Off the Shelf: Contemporary Book Arts in Colorado, a new exhibition that celebrates the diverse genre of artists’ books. Off the Shelf will be on view in the museum’s Griffin Foundation Gallery from Aug. 26 to Dec. 18, 2022, with a panel discussion and reception scheduled for Sept. 7. The exhibition and related programming are free and open to all.

Off the Shelf is curated by Anna Bernhard, director of the Stanley G. Wold Resource Center at Colorado State University  and Johnny Plastini, associate professor of Printmaking in the Department of Art and Art History. Bernhard and Plastini also direct the Center for Artists’ Books and Inclusive Narratives  together with their colleague, associate professor Roberto Muntoreanu.

Literary inspiration

Artists’ books are publications inspired by the framework or function of books and intentionally created as works of art. As an open-ended creative form, artists’ books may be produced in an edition or as a unique copy. The artworks represented in Off the Shelf demonstrate the breadth and depth of book arts as a compelling artistic medium that invites viewers to reflect on a variety of intimate and public issues.

“The artists in this exhibition understand the power of the book to spark conversation and introspection,” Bernhard said. “Their works process issues of love, domesticity, fear, environmental degradation, reverence and human violence, asking viewers to question how we communicate and what voices are being lost.”

“Each work is an intimate portal that allows us access to a plethora of visual, written and material information that goes beyond our notions of text on a page,” Plastini added.

off the shelf GAMA
Sammy Seung-Min Lee, Mammorial, 2017. Image courtesy of the artist.

Highlighting Colorado artists

Off the Shelf showcases work by 17 artists in Colorado. Exhibition pieces are drawn from GAMA’s permanent holdings and book arts collections around the state, with loans from the Fine Press and Artists’ Books collection at the University of Denver Special Collections; The Press at Colorado College; University of Colorado, Boulder Rare and Distinctive Collections; and several artists themselves. Many of the works featured in the exhibition are also courtesy of the CSU Libraries Archives & Special Collections, partners in the exhibition and with CABIN.

“In choosing works for this exhibition, we wanted to highlight the rich diversity and depth of book arts makers from within the state of Colorado,”  Plastini said. “We prioritized pieces that approach critical issues of cultural, environmental, and/or economic sustainability. Another major consideration was to dissolve any preconceived hierarchies between art, craft and design through the medium of the book.”

Visitors are invited to learn more about book arts in a panel discussion at the University Center for the Art’s Griffin Concert Hall on Wednesday, Sept. 7. Exhibiting artists Alicia Bailey, Sammy Seung-Min Lee and Aaron Cohick will join Off the Shelf curators in a conversation beginning at 5 p.m. A reception will follow in GAMA’s Robert W. Hoffert Learning Center.

off the shelf GAMA
Aaron Cohick, The Other Room (story by Brian Evenson), 2017, letterpress printed from photopolymer plates and collograph, and hand-painted with acrylic gesso, 6 x 7.5 in. Image courtesy of the artist.

Other fall events at the museum will also draw inspiration from Off the Shelf. Families with children ages 5-12 will learn how to make their own artist’s book and tell an “art story” at Family Day on Saturday, Sept. 10 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. In October, GAMA will partner with CSU music faculty to create a collaborative Music in the Museum Concert Series program based on the exhibition, and Creative Writing MFA Thesis candidates will give special readings of their work in December.

Support for Off the Shelf: Contemporary Book Arts in Colorado has been generously provided by the City of Fort Collins Fort Fund, the FUNd Endowment at CSU, Colorado Creative Industries, and the Lilla B. Morgan Memorial Endowment, a premier supporter of arts and culture at CSU.

About the Gregory Allicar Museum of Art

Gregory Allicar Museum of Art  invites individuals to engage with art and each other to inspire fresh perspectives and wonder. The museum is a catalyst for visual literacy and critical thinking that instills a passion for learning. For updated museum information, go to