Minnesota Center for Book Arts, Volunteering & Food

Tour participants walk through the MCBA gallery

On Thursday I had the pleasure of participating in a tour of the Minnesota Center for Book Arts. The Minnesota Center for Book Arts (MCBA) is a 25 year old center for contemporary artists’ books, printmaking, papermaking, and artistic exploration of the book format, and the oldest center of its kind in the country. Our tour was led by Adult Programs Manager M.C. Hyland. Hyland was a fantastic host, leading us through the breathtaking, light-filled facilities, and explaining printmaking and paper-making processes.

A 19th century iron hand press

I’m so glad that I took advantage of this tour. Besides its beautiful setting, MCBA really allowed us an intimate view of the processes of Minnesota’s book artists. I could have spent all day here, but alas, we had only 2 hours, so we rushed from room to room to pack in as much as we could.

Bins of pulp and moulds/deckles for making paper

MCBA offers an extensive array of workshops and classes on printmaking, bookbinding, and papermaking for children and adults. Additionally, they host Artists in Residence as well as artists who join the MCBA cooperative.

Paper making and drying room

M.C. Hyland showed us some very old printing presses that are still in use. MCBA focuses mainly on letterpress printing and screen printing, as well as paper making and bookbinding. On the first floor of the building were a gallery, education rooms, letterpress room, and paper making room.

An artists’ book produced at MCBA

Executive Director Jeff Rathermel talked to us about MCBA’s work producing and publishing hand printed and bound artists’ book editions. We saw examples of several interesting formats.

Beautiful letterpress type!

I also learned a bit of trivia on this tour. Do you know why we call capital letters “uppercase”? I found out on this tour that “uppercase” and “lowercase” actually are derived from the shelf that capital and lowercase letters are stored on in type foundries. Capital letters on top…in the upper case!

Printing a photopolymer letterpress plate

Thursday afternoon I volunteered at the registration and hospitality desk. I would recommend this to anyone who is new to the organization or to conferences. I met a lot of people and learned a great deal. Answering questions like “Where do I..?” or “When is…?” really allowed me to become familiar with the schedule and the logistics of taking buses to events and getting around Minneapolis. I also accepted donations for the silent auction. Donations were really piling up!

Walking to dinner with new friends and old friends

After my volunteering shift, I headed out to dinner with two of my roommates, a friend, and a couple of art librarians I just met.

Very interesting architecture in Minneapolis

We ate at Hell’s Kitchen, taking a hint from the VRA + ARLIS/NA 2011 dining guide. Some in our party remembered to bring their coupon books and were able to get a free jar of peanut butter to take home!

Entering Hell’s Kitchen

Art Librarians eating at Hell’s Kitchen

Next up: A packed Friday, including Sessions, Convocation, and the Ice Breaker Welcome Party!

-Emily Hunter, 2011 Caroline Backlund Award recipient