DCPL Call For Entries: Open Shelves

By Editorial Team on April 7, 2016

Deadline: Mon, 18 April 2016

By carmichaellibrary via Wikimedia Commons.
By carmichaellibrary via Wikimedia Commons.


Deadline: Monday, April 18 at 11:59pm


For full application, click here.

Mt. Pleasant Neighborhood Library in Washington, DC. The exhibit may also travel to locations near the library or to other DC Public Library locations after July 2016.

Selected handmade artists’ books, called Open Handmade Books, will remain on display from July 1 to July 31, 2016.

The Open Shelves exhibition will begin with six handmade books created by six book artists. These handmade books will be augmented and altered by community participants and library customers during the exhibition period. The Open Shelves exhibition provides library customers and community members the opportunity to become co-authors, artists, and collaborators of handmade books. No one curator, artist, or author decides what is most relevant or most important in the content of the books in the exhibit because the content is created and changed by the participants during the exhibition.

The focus of the exhibition is on community curation, collaborative art, handmade books, and the concept of ‘Open works.’ Coined by the late philosopher and writer Umberto Eco, ‘Open works’ are pieces that are finished by the user. Artist Keri Smith has popularized the ‘Open works’ concept with her interactive art books for adults, teens, and children. Moreover, the ‘Exquisite corpse’ concept loosely influences the exhibition because participants will collaborate and add content to the handmade books with subsequent participants adding content influenced by the work of previous participants.

Open Shelves will also include a multimedia exhibit using short videos and still photography. With assistance, community participants will be able to record short videos of themselves creating their book pages and of themselves adding to the Open Handmade Books. Participants will also be able to record short videos in which they respond to thematic prompts. At different times throughout the exhibit period, the short videos will be displayed on the walls in the Mt. Pleasant Library. Still images of art making, bookbinding, and of participants’ faces and hands will also be on view in the library.

The Open Shelves exhibition is part of the Open Stories Exhibit Series of the DC Public Library and Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) Curatorial Practice Program. The three different exhibits at the Mt. Pleasant, Petworth, and Watha T. Daniel/Shaw Libraries will provideopportunities for people to dialogue and experience art. Through poetry, photographs, and book arts, the community will contribute to the diverse stories of our neighborhoods.

Your Open Handmade Book should be 4 1⁄4 inches x 5 1⁄2 inches (spine length). The pages of your book should be 8 1/4 inches x 5 5/16 inches (full sheet open for pamphlet and long-stitch bound books) or 4 1/8 inches x 5 5/16 inches (single accordion page). There should be no more than 20 pages in your book.

Your Open Handmade Book should be bound in one of the following ways: a) accordion binding, b) pamphlet-stitch binding, or c) long-stitch binding.

The six Open Handmade Books created by six book artists will all be the same size (4 1⁄4 inches x 5 1⁄2 inches) to allow community participants to add their loose book pages to any of the books in the exhibit. Different bindings may be combined in one book as new pages are added and the book grows. For example, a book that is accordion bound may have pages added to it via the pamphlet-stitch method.

Your Open Handmade Book will be on display inside a freestanding bookcase. Two 6 ft. tables will also be used to display open books that outgrow the bookcases.

*DC Public Library Foundation will provide you with basic bookbinding materials (book board, thread, needle) and 140 lb. watercolor paper to make your Open Handmade Book.

The theme of the Open Shelves exhibition is MEMORY.

  • Consider history, family or origins.
  • What have you forgotten?
  • Explore what past stories should be told.
  • What do you want to dig up?
  • What do you remember?

You may respond to the theme in your Open Handmade Book using media and content of your choice following the size specifications detailed above.

Selected artists will retain the rights of their original Open Handmade Books and of the original content within their books. Please be sure to document your process and your final work before you submit your book for exhibition.

When the six handmade books go on view in the Open Shelves exhibition, the books will be augmented and altered by community participants and library customers during the exhibition period. Your books as you originally made them will cease to exist. Thus, documentation of your original book is critical.

Selected artists will be asked to participate in the following public programs. Your presence is requested, not required.

  1. The opening reception will occur the evening of July 7, 2016 at the Mt. Pleasant Library.
  2. Open Shelves Bookbinding educational workshops will occur weekly in July at the Mt. Pleasant Library. Two of the educational workshops may occur offsite at a community partner’s location.
  3. An Open Shelves Artists’ Talk will occur the evening of July 21, 2016 at the Mt. Pleasant Library. The panel will be open to the selected book artists and community participants.

This call is open to individual artists who live and work in the Washington, DC area, including MD and VA, and are 18 years of age and older.

Artists will be selected by the Open Shelves Committee. Selected artists will be notified by email on May 3, 2016. Selected artists must submit their Open Handmade Books to the Mt. Pleasant Library by May 31, 2016.

Selected individual artists will be awarded an honorarium of $125.00 for her Open Handmade Book and for participating in the public programs. Your presence at one or more of the public programs is requested, not required.

DC Public Library and DC Public Library Foundation reserve the right to photograph artwork for publicity. By entering your work in the Open Shelves exhibition, you agree to the use of your name and artwork in any publicity material developed for the exhibition.

All Open Handmade Books selected will be considered donations to the DC Public Library Foundation and will not be returned to the artists.

The exhibit may travel to community partner locations near the Mt. Pleasant Library or to other DC Public Library locations after July 2016.

Please include the following materials in your email submission:

  1. PROJECT STATEMENT: Limit 250 words. Why would you like to exhibit an artist book of your own that will change and grow as the community adds pages to it? What is intriguing about collaborative art and/or community curation?
  2. Complete ENTRY FORM: Click here.
  3. Current RESUME/CV: Include your full name, mailing address, phone number, and email address.
  4. IMAGES: Image files should be labeled “FirstInitial_LastName_Title.jpg”

Email submission materials and any questions regarding this call to:
Ms. Jamila Felton | Jamila.Felton@dc.gov