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ABSTRACTS & BIOS

Want to find out more about the excellent presentations, lightning talks, and workshops happening at the conference? Below you'll find abstracts and presenter biographies. Feel free to scroll or select specific sessions from the menu below.

Artists and Libraries  

Research for Creative Practice  

 ABSTRACT Abstract 

We would like to share our experiences of creating and delivering a new session for all Falmouth University students. In our Academic Liaison Librarian roles, we often observe a disconnect in our students between 'research' for written assignments and 'research' for the practical aspects of their courses. These students are immersed in their creative practice and can feel less comfortable exploring the physical and digital library spaces.

We wanted to inspire a sense of the library as an inclusive space, a space for enhancing creative practice, and to dissolve any preconceived barriers to research. The interactive session is designed to encourage the students to realise how their creative and improvisational skills can be transferred to support and complement the experience of research. 

 

We used Mural to create an interactive online space to share ideas and strategies in research. Activity driven, the session allowed the students to make connections between their own practice and research. We reframed core information literacy skills to help connect practice-based students with the value of research.

 

This presentation will be a reflection on the development and the recent delivery of this session, with ideas for future iterations. Feedback will be very welcome.

 BIOGRAPHIES 

Rosie Enys BA (Hons), MA, PGCHE, FHEA, MCLIP is the Academic Liaison Librarian for the Academy of Music and Theatre Arts at Falmouth University. Rosie is also a Subject Librarian for the Faculty of Environment, Science and Economy at the University of Exeter. Rosie is interested in examining the connection between library and studio spaces, and how our utilisation and perception of these spaces impact the approach to research and the integration of research into practice. Rosie is also interested in the concept of 'metaliteracy' which focuses on the inter-connected literacies needed to adapt to our ever evolving and complex information environment. She has previously delivered the following papers: Information, Research & the Digital World at LILAC 2015; and Articulating Identity: The (un)comfortable Space of Collaborative Pedagogy at SIBMAS 2016.

Victoria Rees BA (Hons), MSc was until recently the Academic Liaison Librarian for the School of Film and Television and the Games Academy at Falmouth University. The role included supporting students in creative disciplines to navigate the current information landscape to suit their own individual needs. Previous roles included working in public libraries, international school libraries in Florence and Geneva, and roles in other HE institutes.  She has recently moved back to her native Wales and taken up a role in the University Library Service at Cardiff University.

Catherine Worrall BA (Hons), PG Dip, MA is the Academic Liaison Librarian for the School of Art and the Institute of Photography at Falmouth University. Catherine has published articles in the Visual Resources Association Bulletin in 2011, as well as in the Art Libraries Journal in 2012, during her previous role as Image Collections Co-ordinator. During this period, she was awarded travel awards to attend various Visual Resources Association Conferences in North America, including Atlanta in 2010 where she also delivered a paper: ‘Art in the digital age: a comparative study of the adoption of electronic visual resources in the UK, Ireland and North America’. In her current role, Catherine is keen to encourage BA and MA students to use the library collections and spaces to inspire and inform their own practice, as well as support their written assignments, and is working on various projects to facilitate this as well as to share the experience with the wider professional community.

 Seeing Slowly

Sharing practice of embedded visual literacy library workshops for Fashion and Textiles students at the University for the Creative Arts

 ABSTRACT 

This talk will present successes and challenges to learning and pedagogy, learnt through the delivery of embedded visual literacy library workshops within higher education Fashion and Textiles courses at the University for the Creative Arts.

Conducting creative and academic research in the disciplines of fashion and textiles requires analysing images, trends, and cultural phenomenon from a multitude of visual and digital sources. Images are rich with detail and subject matter, and they provide a lens through which these students can engage with emerging trends, cultural phenomenon, and historical and social contexts or theories. 

Advances in technology and social media mean that higher education fashion and textiles students must also now learn to navigate these areas of research within a highly immersive and fast paced visual culture. Through a series of embedded visual literacy workshops, involving a structured visual analysis framework activity, students are given the dedicated space and time to learn the practice of slow looking. This imparts a way of learning that emphasises patient and immersive attention to information and images. Both in and outside the art library, visual literacy can produce new opportunities for meaning-making and critical thinking that may not be possible though everyday interactions with visual culture. 

 BIOGRAPHY 

Alex Bell is a Liaison Librarian at University for the Creative Arts. His role involves delivering information and visual literacy workshops, research tutorials and collection development for the university’s School of Fashion & Textiles and Business School for the Creative Industries. Previously, he has worked in further education libraries in both library and learning technology roles. He has an interest in emerging technologies and implications for visual literacy, colour and material resources, and practice-based research methods. He completed his MSc in Library Science at City, University of London in 2020 and holds a BA (hons) in Fine Art from Bath School of Art & Design. 

Serendipitous Discovery

The Art Library as Place for Creative Exploration

 ABSTRACT 

Art libraries are more than buildings, they are places of artistic inspiration. But how can we demonstrate this to students? This presentation will discuss how an art librarian and a studio art professor introduce art students to the library as a place for creative exploration through serendipitous discovery. Both the librarian and professor will share their perspectives and experiences.  

 

The idea began as a way to engage art students enrolled in a first-year experience course. Serendipity’s creative potential was explored through the creation of book spine poetry, a found poetry technique where books are arranged so their titles create a poem. Inspired by the artist Nina Katchadourian’s Sorted Books project, students wandered the stacks and spontaneously wrote their own poems, which were then exhibited in the library. 

After seeing how engaged students were with the exercise, the project was expanded in an advanced drawing course. After writing their poems, students chose one as a springboard for artistic inspiration. During the first iteration (Spring 2022), students sketched their responses in the library as part of the session. In the second iteration (Fall 2022), students created a final, graded drawing after the session. Drawings were then exhibited alongside the book spine poems.

 BIOGRAPHIES 

Stefanie Hilles is the Arts and Humanities Librarian at Wertz Art and Architecture Library at Miami University, where she liaisons to the art, architecture and interior design, and theatre departments, manages their collections, and instructs information literacy sessions. She holds an M.A. in Art History from Case Western Reserve University and an M.L.I.S. from Kent State University. Stefanie has served as Chapter Liaison on the Art Libraries Society of North America (ARLIS/NA) Executive Board (2019-2021), presented at numerous conferences, including ARLIS/NA, IFLA, LOEX, and RBMS, and has been published in Art Libraries Journal and Public Services Quarterly.

Rob Robbins received his MFA in Painting/Printmaking from Yale University and his BFA in Fine Arts from the Columbus College of Art and Design. His work has been awarded fellowships from the Macdowell Colony, the Ohio Arts Council and the Greater Columbus Arts Council. Robbin's work has been exhibited at the Butler Institute, The Chateau Museum (Rochefort-En-Terre), Springfield Museum of Art, Sears / Peyton Gallery, Carnegie Center for the Visual Arts, Morehead University, Florida State University, Cleveland State University and the Maryland Institute of Art, among others. His work is included in the collections of the Nord Family Foundation, the Columbus Metropolitan Library, and the Ohio State University.

At What Point(s) in the Research Lifecycle Can an Art Library Facilitate Visual Art Research?

 ABSTRACT 

This presentation looks at the question “At what point(s) in the research lifecycle can an art library facilitate visual art research?” in relation to an ongoing research-creation project that I began during a spring/summer residency at Artexte in 2018, and that will culminate in a publication to be co-published by this non-profit Canadian arts organization and myself in 2023.

 

Entitled Who Was Who Was Who in Contemporary Canadian Art, the residency and publication explore and document Canadian artists from the 1960s onwards who use pseudonyms, personae, alter egos and other kinds of alternate identities in their art practice. This bilingual (English/French) publication takes the form of a print and openly accessible artists’ biographical dictionary with distinct but related entries for the artists and their alternate identities.

 

Through the use of concrete examples in my presentation, I will argue that an art library like Artexte’s can facilitate visual art research throughout the entire research lifecycle in numerous and invaluable ways.

 BIOGRAPHY 

John Latour is the Teaching & Research Librarian – Fine Arts at Concordia University in Montréal, Québec (Canada). He has also worked as an arts librarian in other Canadian arts organizations including the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA), Artexte, and the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ). He was the President of ARLIS/NA MOQ in 2022 and 2011 and served on the Programming Committee of the 49th Annual ARLIS/NA conference. John is also a visual artist who has participated in numerous exhibitions in Canada and abroad.

Art, Knowledge Production, and Community

 ABSTRACT 

In the midst of the participatory turn that defined significant aspects of art in the beginning of the 21st century, a number of artists created spaces that sometimes took the form of small ad-hoc libraries alongside other spaces dedicated towards information retrieval. At the mammoth Documenta11 in Kassel (2002), for instance, Meschac Gaba, Thomas Hirschhorn, and the Raqs Media Collective all sought to distil the exhibition’s decolonial ethos and its fascination with knowledge produced at social peripheries by creating artworks that took the form of libraries. A few years later, the artist Martha Rosler exhibited a portion of her library as part of unitednationsplaza

 

Such works sought to activate the audience’s participatory potential and agency. But in changing the spectator into a ‘spect-actor’ and researcher, what kind of agency is unleashed by these artworks? Moreover, there are also important questions about artworks that utilize or parallel post-Fordism’s emphasis upon knowledge and cognition as the drivers of the Western economy. Can the knowledge communities envisaged by these projects indicate an alternative to the Neoliberal regime of capitalism? 

 BIOGRAPHY 

Matthew Bowman is an art critic and historian lecturing at the University of Suffolk, Ipswich. His research focuses on twentieth-century and contemporary art, criticism and philosophy in the United States and Europe. He has published widely, having produced a number of peer-reviewed essays on the philosophy of art criticism as well as the category of ‘Bad Painting’. He also regularly writes art criticism for Art Monthly.  

Lavender & Violet

Lesbian Flowers in the New York Archives

 ABSTRACT 

This spring I will spend a month in the United States researching the connection between flowers, floral imagery and lesbian identity and expression. Over the course of four weeks I will spend time at the New York Public Library, the Met, the Lesbian Herstory Archives and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden library. In particular, I will be researching the life and writing of lesbian poet, novelist and memoirist May Sarton and the connection between flowers and lesbian identity in her work. In this presentation I will share my experiences and discoveries in the archives through a combination of scholarly and visual work. The visual work shown will be part of my ‘devotional citation’ praxis in which I create illuminated manuscripts featuring botanical illustrations and citations from queer, decolonial and feminist texts, whilst the presentation will attend to my experiences in the archives as an artist, a lesbian and an early career researcher.

 BIOGRAPHY 

Storm Greenwood is an artist-scholar and AHRC-funded doctoral candidate pursuing her PhD at the intersection of Fine Art, Sustainable Praxis and Queer Decolonial Feminist Studies at Glasgow School of Art. Her research praxis includes writing, painting and embroidery.

The VCUarts Qatar Comics Lab

The Art Library as Place for Creative Exploration

 ABSTRACT 

In the past decade, a culture of comic and sequential art has emerged in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Although the region has a history of cartoon-based art, this more recent trend is toward comic and sequential art geared specifically toward adults. Many of these pieces of art and the associated publications they appear in are seen as responses to the power structures of the societies they are created within. In some countries, authors, artists, and publishers have been fined or jailed for creating work that challenges state authority or morality. In 2021, the VCUarts Qatar Art and Design Library, the library of the Qatar campus of Virginia Commonwealth University, decided to establish a dedicated Comics Lab to foster further exploration within the medium - particularly as it relates to the region. Although the Lab is currently building its resources to meet the research and pedagogical needs of the school, it has also embarked on a second phase of its conception - one of coordinating the dissemination of comic and sequential art from the region. In adhering to the greater VCU Libraries’ vision that a library should be a producer as well as a collector of information, the Comics Lab is currently seeking funding to purchase and publish work produced in the region.

 BIOGRAPHIES 

Michael Wirtz is an Associate Professor and Head of Research and Library Technology at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar Library where he teaches thesis development and writing in VCUarts Qatar's Master of Fine Arts program. His research interests center on the ways art and design practitioners find, consume, create and disseminate information. Michael is also co-founder of the VCUarts Qatar Comics Lab, a facility within the VCUarts Qatar Library that aims to facilitate exposure to, and production of, comic and sequential art. 

Leland Hill is an Assistant Professor of Graphic Design at Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar where he teaches typography and interdisciplinary collaborative systems design strategies. His interests also extend to how the relationship between graphic design and comic book studies come together as visual and sequential narratives. Leland is also the co-founder of the VCUarts Qatar Comics Lab, a partnership with the VCUarts Qatar Library to explore diverse narratives in comic and sequential art.

Professional Writing for Publication

 Why? Where? How?

 ABSTRACT 

This is a practical workshop for anyone thinking about professional writing, particularly, but not only, for journals. Reviews, short articles, opinion pieces or in-depth surveys, many of us have something to contribute but are often unsure about how to get started. We would like the workshop to be informal and driven by questions from participants. 

 

We will de-mystify the publishing landscape and the process of contributing to a journal, covering ongoing changes and features of current scholarly and professional communication, including peer review, open access, publishing models, re-using your content, copyright, and what to think about when choosing a journal for submission. We will then work with participants in small groups, focusing on writing, developing ideas, professional practice, research, and critical reflection.

 

This will be a 60 min. workshop, structured around practical individual exercises and group discussion facilitated by the presenters.

 BIOGRAPHIES 

Gustavo Grandal Montero is Library Collections and Engagement Manager at Tate. Trained as an art historian, he writes and presents regularly on art and librarianship topics and has contributed to a range of academic and professional journals (Artist's Book Yearbook, Blue Notebook, Communications in Information Literacy, Print Quarterly, etc.) and monographs including Handbook of Art and Design Librarianship and Please come to the show. He is a PhD candidate at Central Saint Martins (UAL) and Editor of the Art Libraries Journal.

Kraig Binkowski is the Chief Librarian at the Yale Center for British Art, Reference Library and Archives. He is trained as a printmaker (MFA) as well as a librarian and writes, teaches and speaks on a variety of topics spanning art librarianship and printmaking processes. Kraig has worked for nearly 25 years in museum libraries and has served in many roles for ARLIS/NA including that of Professional Resources Editor. He was previously the Reviews Editor for Art Libraries Journal and is now an Associate Editor of the Journal.


Michael A Wirtz is Associate Professor and Head of Research and Library Technology at Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar. At VCUarts Qatar, in addition to serving as a research and systems librarian, he teaches thesis development and writing in the school’s Master of Fine Arts program in interdisciplinary design. His research interests focus on the intersection of traditional librarianship and studio practice, a topic he examines in a chapter of the most recent edition of the Handbook of Art and Design Librarianship. He has previously served as co-editor for the art and design journal Tasmeem and the coordinator for the ARLIS/NA Learning Portal. He is an Associate Editor of the Art Libraries Journal.

Show and Tell

Independent Publications and Activist Press in the Art Library 

 ABSTRACT 

Run by the ArLis Serials Committee this is an informal sharing workshop to showcase small art press and independent publications that can be collected as part of an art library journal collection. The committee will have a selection to share and promote and participants are invited to bring in their own examples of publications to share. Examples will include material with a range of authorship and subject matter with the aim of promoting the activist nature of such material and the importance of these publications in ensuring representation of minority groups and alternative supply chains that are outside mainstream publishing.  

As part of the workshop participants will have the opportunity to share and discuss their own experiences of the issues that relate to the collection of this material including barriers to collection development and access, storage and promotion issues.

 BIOGRAPHY 

The ArLis Serials Committee aims to support those working with serials in art specialist libraries. We do this by: 

  • Building connections between colleagues and supporting sharing of expertise and best practice in serials management.

  • Providing a community within which to engage with the challenges of serials management in an increasingly digital information environment.

  • Organising visits/workshops/resources focused on management of serials in art specialist libraries.

Cognitive Stimulation Therapy at the National Art Library, V&A

 ABSTRACT 

In 2018 the V&A Museum launched a pilot of the first museum-based Cognitive Stimulation Therapy (CST) programme for adults living with dementia. The programme was a collaboration between the V&A, researchers from University College London (UCL), and London-based dementia charity Resonate Arts. With some disruption due to Covid, the programme is about to begin its third iteration in Spring 2023.

 

CST is a short-term, non-medicinal intervention for people living with mild to moderate dementia. It takes the form of fourteen or more sessions of themed activities which aim to actively stimulate and engage people with dementia, whilst also providing the benefits of socialising in a group. Before and after taking part in CST, participants are assessed to monitor changes in their mood and cognition. Involvement has been clinically proven to improve the cognitive function, communication and wellbeing of participants and has been deemed as effective as medication in improving cognition and recall in those with early-stage dementia.

 

The V&A programme aimed to test the potential benefits of hosting CST sessions within a museum and library setting as opposed to a clinical one. This presentation will evaluate the library’s involvement with the programme so far and outline its intentions going forward. I will also reflect on how my participation in CST has helped me re-consider the purpose of my role as Assistant Curator in the National Art Library.

 BIOGRAPHY 

Catriona Gourlay studied Fine Art in Edinburgh and worked as a Research Resources Assistant at the National Galleries of Scotland before becoming Assistant Curator in the National Art Library at the V&A in 2015. Her V&A display, Landscape and Language in Artists’ Books, explored how artists since the 1960s have used thought-provoking combinations of word and image to respond to landscape or evoke imaginary places. She is the author of the Travel chapter in The Art of the Illustrated Book, the most recent publication about the National Art Library collection.  

Displaying Sound

The National Poetry Library’s Vinyl Collection

 ABSTRACT 

This presentation will explore how the National Poetry Library has developed its historic collection of vinyl LPs over the last three years, describing the challenges of balancing the preservation of audio objects with their accessibility and discoverability, and examining the opportunities this unique collection presents in building new audiences.

It will begin by describing the collection as it was in 2019 - the library’s approach predominantly favoured preservation over access, keeping the bulk of the LPs in the library’s rare books room, and the publicly accessible records away from the rest of the library’s AV material.

It will go on to describe the library’s activity since reopening after the COVID lockdowns, building bespoke, accessible storage for the LPs, adding new releases, and promoting this collection with blog posts, a radio show and collaborations with organisations such as the Sound of the Year Awards.

 

It will conclude by looking to the future, reflecting on how the library might encourage new creative work through new events, collaborations and commissions around this material, and outlining plans for its digitised copies of analogue audio.

The presentation will be interspersed with two or three selections from the library’s record collection.

 BIOGRAPHY 

Will René is an Assistant Librarian at the National Poetry Library. He holds an MA in Library and Information Studies from UCL and presents Plastic Language on NTS Radio.

Artists’ Books and Regional Representation in the British Library

 ABSTRACT 

During 2022, I spent three months at the British Library as part of their PhD placement scheme. This placement investigated small publisher fairs across the UK and Ireland to support the development of the British Library’s artists’ books collection, with a particular focus on regional representation. This presentation reflects upon my experience of using these small publisher fairs as data sources in order to ensure that the British Library collection is inclusive and representative. Gathering data from exhibitor lists and comparing it to the British Library’s holdings makes it possible to analyse the diversity of the collection through various lenses. These insights can therefore be used to support curators in targeting their collecting activity towards areas most in need. As I worked between Belfast and London, my research also considers small publisher fairs in Ireland and the British Library’s relationship with Irish artists across the island. This demonstrates the complexities of UK legal deposit procedure as it relates to material produced in Ireland, given the colonial legacies of this legislation. Furthermore, this research highlights the various, culturally dependent understandings of “artists’ books” as a term, emphasising the medium’s unique position at the intersection of the publishing and visual arts worlds. 

 BIOGRAPHY 

Eva Isherwood-Wallace is an AHRC-funded PhD student at Queen’s University Belfast, researching modernist poetry in relation to the sculptural. She recently completed a research placement on contemporary artists’ books and fine press publishing at the British Library. In 2018 she was awarded the WTM Riches Essay Prize by the Irish Association for American Studies. Her work has been published in The Irish Journal of American Studies and The Robert Graves Review and her poetry has appeared in Catflap, The Tangerine, Banshee, Poetry Ireland Review and The Emma Press Anthology of Contemporary Gothic Verse.

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