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Artists' Book Construction

The Accordion Fold

Posted 09.06.16 by Meredith Moore

Accordion and carousel books on display.

Artists' books are constructed using a wide range of materials and forms. Published as one-of-a-kind or in small editions, many artists forgo the conventional book format and create objects that aren't easily identified as books at all. Others forms, which are more recognizable, utilize various conventional and unconventional book binding techniques. Some of the more distinctive binding styles include tunnel books, pop-ups, scrolls, concertinas and accordion folds.

This exhibit highlights one of the more popular book art forms, the accordion book. Our Artists' Book Collection contains over 600 items, approximately 50 of which were made using this technique. Scripps College Press, formerly led by Kitty Maryatt, is well known for their artist books and many that use the accordion fold are on display here.

Accordion books are constructed without stitching, and are made by folding a sheet of paper back and forth to create pages. Flexible in more ways than one, the artist can limit content to a single page or have it span across several pages. The accordion book is also easily displayed by spreading out the pages, turning itself into an art object. Because of its versatile form, many artists choose to experiment with this construction technique, riffing and expanding upon the form.

The accordion book has a rich history originating in Asia. Some historians theorize that the accordion was one of the first books to have "pages", evolving from folding long scrolls. The Aztecs and Mayans also used this form.

Be sure to take a look at all of the accordion books in the display cases, and to see anything in our Artists' Book Collection, please ask a reference librarian for assistance.

Curated by Meredith Moore
September 6 - 30, 2016

Image Information: Accordion books on display. Photos by Meredith Moore.

Founded in 1826, Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) is the oldest continuously degree-granting college of art and design in the nation. The College enrolls nearly 3,500 undergraduate, graduate and continuing studies students from 49 states and 65 countries in fine arts, design, electronic media, art education, liberal arts, and professional studies degree and non-credit programs. With art and design programs ranked in the top ten by U.S. News and World Report, MICA is pioneering interdisciplinary approaches to innovation, research, and community and social engagement. Alumni and programming reach around the globe, even as MICA remains a cultural cornerstone in the Baltimore/Washington region, hosting hundreds of exhibitions and events annually by students, faculty and other established artists.

This page was last updated on 09/06/2016.