The Northwoods Set Book Project: Of Darkness & Light by Kim Cornwall

A collaboration of Art and Poetry
by Northwoods Book Arts Guild and University of Alaska Press

unnamed(10)

The Set Book Project features 26 artist books, each responding to one of four books
of poetry by Alaskan authors; they are the project’s “set books:”
Armor & Ornament, by Christopher Lee Miles, 2019
Li Bai Rides the Celestial Dolphin Home, by Tom Sexton, 2018
Of Darkness & Light, by Kim Cornwall, edited by Wendy Erd, 2019
Roughly for the North, by Carrie Ayagaduk Ojanen, 2018

In the four newsletters leading up to the show, we will focus on one of the featured poets
and the books created in response to their poetry.

Of Darkness & Light by Kim Cornwall, was edited by Wendy Erd, and published after the poet’s death in 2010. Peggy Shumaker describes Cornwall’s poems as “filled with gratitude and wonder and grit” as they weave together themes of strong women and wild landscapes.

The solace Cornwall found in nature is reflected in the 6 artist books that respond to Of Darkness & Light in the Set Book Project. Susan Campbell’s rebound copy of the book includes natural artifacts sewn on its cover, a direct reference to Cornwall’s love of nature. Similarly, Susheila Khera’s response features natural and often symbolic inclusions and embellishments within the text block and on the book’s cover. Stephanie Strandberg’s longstitch-bound book focuses on the contrast of darkness and light, especially in the carefully selected prints featured on the covers of the book and clamshell casement, as well as on the subtly colored black and white endpapers. Connie Stricks offers two responses, both stab bindings, with abstract imagery referencing the sun and moon. Finally, the cover of Ashley Thayer’s bradel-bound book features a gold-tooled sun on its cover. These books exemplify how book artists can respond to the same book so differently and yet appropriate to the poetry’s inspiration.

The full collection of 26 artist books by 16 NBG members will be exhibited
in the Books As Art 3 exhibition in the Bear Gallery, November 2021.