2015 MCBA Prize Winner Announcement

As part of our 30th Anniversary celebration, Minnesota Center for Book Arts (MCBA) is proud to announce that the winner of the 2015 MCBA Prize is Ken Botnick, for his artist’s book, Diderot Project

“I believe we make books in order to discover our subjects,” Botnick remarks in his artist statement for the winning work. Diderot Project was inspired by a five-year-long investigation of the “Encyclopédie ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers” — a 150-page visual and textual narrative; a meditation on the nature of craft, the hand, work, tools, machines, dreams, the senses and the imagination. The book is letterpress printed in five colors and incorporates six different papers, including handmade and watermarked paper made by Botnick at Dieu Donne paper studio in New York.

Botnick’s content began primarily as a visual exploration of the original plate volumes seen through the lens of the camera, then grew by considering the encyclopedia as a system of correlations and leaps of the imagination, incorporating original narrative by Botnick and excerpted texts by some 40 other authors. To see images of the work and read more by the artist describing his process in making the book, visit his entry page at MCBAPrize.org.

This year’s competition, celebrated in coordination with MCBA’s 30th Anniversary, was judged by a jury of three experts in the field of book arts. The jurors reviewed a total of 170 submissions, representing 18 nations around the world from five continents, including 34 of the 50 United States. View the entire MCBA Prize 2015 online gallery at MCBAPrize.org.

Finalists for the 2015 MCBA Prize included:
– Sarah Bryant and David Allen, Figure Study
– Casey Gardner, Matter, Antimatter, and So Forth
– Sara Langworthy, On Physical Lines
– Robin Price, Love in the Time of War

The jury also awarded three Special Recognitions of Merit:
– Rhiannon Alpers, Remnants
– Candace Hicks, String Theory, Vol. III
– Gabriella Solti, The Book of Hours

The winner was announced at MCBA’s 30th Anniversary Gala and award ceremony on Saturday, July 25. The winner receives a total cash prize of $2,500, plus an additional $750 travel stipend to attend Book Art Biennial and The MCBA Prize gala and award ceremony. Finalists each receive a $500 cash award and $750 travel stipend.

The MCBA Prize 2015 jury consisted of:
– Aaron Cohick, proprietor of NewLights Press and master printer at The Press at Colorado College
– Daniel E. Kelm, book artist and founder of the Garage Annex School for Book Arts
– Jae Jennifer Rossman, Assistant Director for Special Collections, Yale University Library
(For complete bios, visit our Jurors page.)

In summing up the first stage of the competition, the jury stated:
“The MCBA Prize 2015 attracted work of impressive depth and quality. The selection process to name five finalists from the pool of 170 submissions compelled an active discussion on topics such as integrity, finish, physicality, complexity, and the development of ideas. We found our discussions thought-provoking, yet fun, as we anticipated the next missive from our colleagues. Eventually, the difficult decisions were made, but not before each juror passionately articulated their opinions. We are looking forward to continuing the discussion at MCBA’s Book Art Biennial and beyond. Thank you to all who entered for sharing your work with us, and congratulations to the finalists.”

The MCBA Prize was founded in 2009 as the first honor to recognize book art from across the field and around the world. The award is presented in conjunction with Book Art Biennial, a series of workshops, exhibitions, presentations and performances that inspire discussion and explore contemporary practice in the book arts. The fourth Biennial Symposium, convened July 23-26, 2015, continues a tradition of stimulating critical thinking and dialogue. For more details on Book Art Biennial and MCBA’s educational and artistic programming, visit MNBookArts.org.