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Bound & Unbound 7

Juror - Brian Dettmer

Brian Dettmer


Brian Dettmer is one of the leading contemporary artists working with the book today. Over the last 20 years, his work has been the subject of over 25 solo exhibitions at both international galleries and institutions, including: the Geiger Foundation, Cecina, Italy; MiTO, Barcelona, Spain; the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia (MOCAGA), GA; the International Museum of Surgical Science, IL; and the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art (VAMOCA), VA.

Dettmer’s work has been featured in exhibitions at the Museum of Arts and Design, NY; the Renwick Gallery at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, DC; the Chicago Cultural Center, IL; the High Museum of Art, GA; NYU AD Space, Abu Dhabi; and the Perez Art Museum, FL, among many others. Dettmer’s work can be found in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian American Art Museum Renwick Gallery, DC; the Art Institute of Chicago Ryerson and Burnham Libraries, IL; the High Museum of Art, GA; the National Gallery, Oslo, Norway; and the Yale University Art Gallery, CT, among several others. He has lectured on his work at a number of museums and institutions (NYU Abu Dhabi; the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK; the New York Public Library, New York, NY) and has given a TED talk at the TED youth conference, NYC. Dettmer’s work has been featured in numerous publications and media including The New York Times, The Guardian, The Telegraph, Chicago Tribune, Art News, Modern Painters, Wired, The Village Voice, Harper’s, CBS News and NPR.

He resides in Chicago, Illinois.


21st Century Museum Hotel
The Art Institute of Chicago Ryerson and Burnham Libraries, Chicago, IL
Aurora University, Aurora, IL
The Blackstone Hotel, Chicago, IL
Bowdoin College Library, Brunswick, ME
Buck Company, Chicago, IL
California Polytechnic State University, Pomona, CA
The Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland, OH
Collección DKV, Spain
Collección Solo, Madrid, Spain
The Eaton Collection at UC Riverside, Riverside, CA
Emory University, Atlanta, GA
Fundación Sorigué, Barcelona, Spain
The Gadsden Public Library, Gadsden, AL
Harper College, Palatine, IL
High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA
Indiana University Fine Arts Library, Bloomington, IN
MacEwan University, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Microsoft, U.S.A.
Middlebury College, Middlebury, VT
The Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia, Atlanta, GA
The Museum of Old and New Art, Tasmania, AU
The National Museum, Oslo, Norway
The New York Public Library, NY
Pérez Art Museum, Miami, FL
The Phoenix Public Library, Phoenix, AZ
Ringling College of Art and Design, Sarasota, FL
Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry
San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose, CA
Savannah College of Art & Design, Jen Library, Savannah, GA
Shandy Hall, Coxwold, England
Smithsonian American Art Museum
Renwick Gallery, Washington, D.C.
Temple University, Philadelphia, PA
The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
University of Miami, Miami, FL
Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT
Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT 

Brian Dettmer

Juror Statement

A.I. has been on my mind lately. It has dominated the news, intrigued and concerned us all about how information will be collected and shared in the future. Yet, while we are watching and wondering what this will lead to, a more powerful and political attack on our information and education is happening right now in our libraries and schools around the county. Books are being banned and ideas being censored in the U.S. at an alarming rate. The conventional conversation would lead one to believe that the world of ideas is all digital and that books are outdated; yet the fact that books are still the focus of such sharp attacks goes to prove that they are the most powerful and impactful tool we have to share stories and communicate complex ideas to others. We need to save the books, but we also need to help them thrive in new forms and new directions, to consider them as they are, and to expand the ways we approach them. This is why I feel that the field of book art is more vital and relevant than ever. An artists’ book or altered book can take a familiar form and question and expand its direction without erasing its power. It enters the realm of art yet retains the tangibility and intimacy that only a book provides.

While reviewing the list of entries for Bound and Unbound VII, I am reminded that the potential for book arts can span as far as any genre or medium in the visual arts. It’s often a hybrid form starting with the book and leading into any number of endless directions. The variety of entries we received for this exhibition proved that altered books can be a perfect vehicle to investigate or speak to any issue. The selections I chose should reflect a wide scope of different styles and approaches – from personal poems to political gestures, material investigations to conceptual questions, and contemporary designs to classical reflections. Our culture is at a pivotal moment in the way we collect and share our ideas and stories. The book object is threatened in many ways, but it is also the most tangible and reliable format to remain uncompromised in the future. Book art can investigate, illustrate, and play with these issues in a unique way. I am proud of the originality and diverse approaches to the work in this exhibition. The entries for this exhibition have cast a new light on my own perception of the field and inspired me to see altered books in several new ways. An altered book can bridge ideas across many genres and take many forms, and I hope you find this to be well reflected in these selections for the Bound and Unbound VII: Altered Book Exhibition.

I would like to thank all the artists that have entered, to Sarah A. Hanson-Pareek, curator of digital projects and photographs, for the invitation to jury this show, and to the University Libraries and their staff at the University of South Dakota for this opportunity.

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