BookLab End of Semester Recap

May 22, 2020

Despite the sudden move to online, UMD English's BookLab has had a busy 2020 spring. 

Amos Kennedy

Artist-in-Residence Visit by Amos Kennedy  

The first half of what had already been a crowded, full semester culminated with Amos Paul Kennedy, Jr.’s visit to BookLab during the first week of March as our Petrou Artist in Residence. Based in Detroit, Kennedy is the foremost Black letterpress printer in the country today, known for his distinctive multilayered style and use of a traditional medium for sharp, contemporary social justice messaging. Over the course of an afternoon, over a hundred people came through BookLab to print with him. The following day Kennedy delivered a talk that combined his life story with his personal philosophy and advice to the many students in the audience. Afterwards, everyone was invited up to the stage to pick out one of his prints to carry home.

BookLab Online

Online Events

BookLab is a place—there is no use pretending otherwise. The resources BookLab has spent a year and a half accumulating—its presses, its beautiful type collection, its beloved paper and inks, its books—are at the essence of its work, and there is no virtual surrogate for any of them. Above all, the feel of the place—a place to meet, to create together, to think and work with hands and hearts—doesn’t simply flip to a Zoom room. Nevertheless, after spring break, the BookLab team decided they still had work to do. After all, both sides of a page have something to offer. 

Galvanized by the College’s #keepcreatingUMD hashtag initiative, BookLab has run a series of events over Zoom, each which has been especially well-attended by participants from outside UMD, some of as far away as Germany and the UK. Britt has organized multiple online sessions of its popular ZineClub; Dylan Lewis, meanwhile, led a paper marbling workshop, demonstrating how household items like shaving cream and food coloring could be used in the service of a centuries-old technique for making decorated endpapers; and Mal Haselberger is currently collecting and curating an exhibition of E-Postcards from Home. which will also serve as a way to document a collective experience during this time. Each of the team offer some further reflections below.

BookLab Online

Bookbinding Kits
BookLab's teaching mission has continued as well. Students in the graduate BookLab course each received a mail-order bookbinding kit, and put them to use via a remote session. Another class featured a guest visit from a local rare books dealer, Brian Cassidy. For their final projects, students are at work on a variety of handmade, altered, and treated books, ranging from a cut-out edition of Richardson’s Pamela refashioned as a letterbox to an abecedarium of reclaimed words prototypically used against women. Mal Haselberger, meanwhile, submitted an edition of a hand-printed artist’s book as her MA capstone, the first graduate student in the English department to do so.