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Festivals, Fairs & Special Events

Book Arts in Chicago: Past, Present, Future

Have you ever wondered what a community-focused literary and book arts center might look like, here and now? We’re bursting with ideas, and we’d like to hear yours as well. On our path to building a creative habitat that will sustain a wide range of writers and artists, we’re gathering thinkers from different disciplines within the wider writing and book arts worlds for an evening of exploration and exchange.

This is the first in our series of “Curious Conversations” held at the illustrious Colvin House. Panelists Jill Gage of the Newberry Library, Eric Von Haynes of Chicago Printers Guild, artist/writer/entrepreneur Julia Arredondo, and book artist/writer/illustrator Hannah Batsel will discuss what literary and book arts mean to Chicago, what a new center could catalyze, and how the past and present will inform what we do next. Moderated by our Founder Audrey Niffenegger and hosted by our Executive Director Deborah Siegel-Acevedo, we’re asking big questions with the goal of engaging with a vibrant mix of artists, writers, and curators as we re-enter the Chicago scene with a book-shaped bang.

We invite you to join us in putting heads together to think, imagine, and dream up our collective future.

For an opportunity to dine with some of the panelists and ABH supporters before the event, please see here.

To follow along as the story continues to unfold, please subscribe to our newsletter.


About the panelists + moderator:

Julia Arredondo is an artist and author of over twenty zines, including Guide to Being Broke & Fabulous and Spells to Kill Your Boss. Julia is originally from South Texas and is currently in transit as a working artist. Julia’s educational background includes formal training in printmaking and independent publishing from the Maryland Institute College of Art and an MFA with a focus on book arts and creative entrepreneurship from Columbia College Chicago. Julia’s small press background includes startup publishing entities Vice Versa Press, Curandera Press and DIY media channel, QTVC Live!. Julia continues to print and publish under the moniker, Future Juju.

Hannah Batsel is a Chicago-based author and book artist whose handmade work can be found in university and museum collections around the world. Batsel received a BFA in Printmaking and Book Arts from the University of Georgia in 2011 and an MFA in the same from Columbia College Chicago in 2016.

Jill Gage is the Custodian of the John M. Wing Foundation on the History of Printing at the Newberry Library. She is currently working on an exhibition for early 2025 on immigrant printing in Chicago.

Eric Von Haynes merges traditional and contemporary printing with a focus on collaboration and community involvement. In 2007 he established Flatlands Press, producing art and printed materials to foster worldwide artistic exchange. He presently serves as the President of the Chicago Printers Guild.

Audrey Niffenegger is a writer and visual artist who has been making artists books for many years. She helped to found the Columbia College Chicago Center for Book and Paper Arts and taught in the MFA in Book and Paper Arts program there for many years. She is the founder of Artists Book House and serves as a member of its Board.


About the Series

“Curious Conversations” is ABH’s series of co-sponsored community conversations among artists, writers, and curators, hosted by Deborah Siegel-Acevedo at Colvin House (5940 N. Sheridan Road). We’re asking big questions with the goal of engaging the writing and book arts communities to think with us as we enter and absorb the Chicago scene.


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