Columbia College Chicago

Expanded Artists' Books: Envisioning the Future of the Book

The Center for Book and Paper Arts, a program of the Interdisciplinary Arts Department at Columbia College Chicago, recently received a $50,000 Arts in Media grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in support of a new electronic publishing initiative, Expanded Artists’ Books. This grant will support the an award of two $10,000 commissions for new artworks for the iPad. These will have physical counterparts that intersect, modulate, or inform the digital components of the artwork.

Artists’ books claim all aspects of the book (format, typography, structure, etc.) as potentially expressive. As immersive hybrid experiences for the reader/viewer, these works expand the limits of what we traditionally think of as a book. Simultaneously, we consider that tablet-based mobile platforms are emerging as a dynamic arena for investigation of the notion of the book. Expanded Artists’ Books utilize the rich capabilities of the tablet platform to imagine new forms that a book might take, such as exploring how interactivity challenges the traditional closure of text or the performance of time. We are currently focused specifically on the Apple iPad as a site for exploration of this conceptually rich territory. Finished projects—apps and physical books—will be published by the Center for Book and Paper Arts beginning April 2014. 


The Center for Book and Paper Arts has named two teams as commission award winners for this innovative digital publishing project:

team one

Denise Bookwalter (left) and Meg Mitchell (right) will complete Rain/fall, an environmentally-driven project which mobilizes online weather data as a way to “enable us to experience the world from new perspectives.”

team two

The team of Amaranth Borsuk, Ian Hatcher and Kate Durbin (left to right) will develop a project called Abra, which plays with the concept of the illuminated manuscript “through a five-pronged collaboration between two poets, one visual artist, one iOS artist-developer, and a potentially infinite number of readers.”

Winners were selected by a national panel of three jurors including Bill Berkson, a poet, art critic and Professor Emeritus, San Francisco Art Institute; Emily McVarish, a writer, designer and book artist and Associate Professor of Graphic Design, California College of the Arts; and Timothy Murray, Professor of Comparative Literature and English and Curator of the Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Studies at Cornell University. 

“This program will enable artists to explore relationships between traditional and new media,” said CBPA Director Steve Woodall. “We feel it has the potential to greatly expand the audience for book art.”

Information, such as photos, documentation, interviews and e-publishing insights will be posted beginning in January 2013, for the duration of the project. Check back soon for new content!

We are not currently accepting applications; however, if you would like to be informed of future commission opportunities, please sign up for our mailing list using the form at the bottom of this page. 


The principal investigators are Paul Catanese, Michelle Citron, Clifton Meador, and Steve Woodall. The project manager is Jessica Cochran. 

These commissions made possible with generous support from the National Endowment for the Arts: Arts in Media Grant, Kahle-Austin Foundation, and other support entities. 

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