Just Right: Nicole Vanasse’s “Goldilocks”

On November 2, 2011, the NMWA Library Fellows—NMWA members who specifically support the Library and Research Center and artists’ books exhibitions and programs—gathered for their 22nd annual meeting. The agenda wasn’t all business, however; members were treated to two fantastic presentations on artist books. 
Nicole Vanasse's "Goldilocks"

Nicole Vanasse's "Goldilocks"

Textile collage artist Nicole Vanasse, the winner of the 2010 Library Fellows Award (a biennial award that funds an artist’s creation of a book in an edition of 125), met with the members and gave a presentation describing the inspiration and process behind her winning book, Goldilocks. Then she unveiled the finished work for the first time, to the delight of the members.

Nicole Vanasse

Nicole Vanasse showing her artist book "Goldilocks"

Inspired by the classical children’s story, events from her childhood, and her cat, this creative, interactive book tells the tale of the Bear family meeting an unconventional Goldilocks. Suitable for children and adults alike, the story beautifully portrays the way that wondrous relationships can sneak up and catch people when they aren’t looking. The outside features an invitingly tactile faux-fur cover, perhaps bringing to mind a cuddly cat. Readers can pull out the hand-cut cards—tucked into pockets facing the illustrations—that tell the story. The reproductions depict original textile collage panels that Vanasse made over a four-year period, which were transferred to pliable, matte-finished canvas and applied directly as book plates to fleece pages.

For ten months, Vanasse laboriously sewed, cut, and bound each of the 125 copies by hand. Since she was new to the book binding process, she researched various binding techniques on the internet, and selected a sewing technique in order to securely ties the pages without bunching the material. She chose to do the assembly herself in order to carry on the centuries-old tradition of mothers making soft books for children.


NMWA Library Fellows Meeting

Vanasse’s presentation wasn’t the only highlight of the meeting. Kerry McAleer-Keeler, the Director of Corcoran College’s Art and the Book Program, presented a slideshow of impressive student book art projects and spoke about Corcoran’s unique program. The program prepares students with scholarship, technique, and professional guidance, providing opportunities for success in the book art and bookmaking fields. Situated inWashington,D.C., the graduate program compliments NMWA’s renowned artists’ books program and exhibitions.

—Jennifer Page is the library assistant in the Library and Research Center at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.