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Rare Books Digital Exhibition — Travelers: Forty Years of Books To Go

“Let the paper remain on the desk unwritten, and the book on the shelf unopen’d!”Walt Whitman, Song of the Open Road

Peter and Donna Thomas are book artists from Santa Cruz, CA. Since 1977 they have worked both collaboratively and individually; letterpress printing, hand-lettering and illustrating texts, making paper, and hand binding both fine press and artists’ books. Inspired by the archetypal quest for beauty and perfection, and informed by the potential of word, image, shape and texture to create an illuminating or transformative experience, their initial aim was to create limited edition fine press books made of the finest materials and produced to the highest standards of quality, in both full size and miniature format. This aesthetic continued to guide them through the 1990s as they worked in new formats made possible by personal computer technology, exploring non-traditional book structures and shaped book objects as both limited editions and one-of-a-kind books. From 2010 until the Covid-19 pandemic they have traveled the USA as the “Wandering Book Artists” giving talks, workshops and demonstrations to both academic and community-based audiences.

In 2018, forty years after their bookmaking and travel adventures began, libraries and museums across the country recognized their work with exhibitions, lectures, and workshops. The Rare Books Department joined Swarthmore University, Michigan State University, Brigham Young University, Emory University, Baylor University and others in celebrating Peter and Donna’s love of paper, bookmaking, teaching, and traveling with pieces from our significant collection of their work.

Take a virtual trip scrolling through our digital exhibition, Travelers — Forty Years of Books To Go, where you can visit Donna’s delicate and lively illustrations, on Peter’s handmade paper, of their adventures far and near.

May we all travel again and often, soon!

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