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00:00:00 - Interviewer's Introduction 00:00:21 - Childhood & Early Art Education

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Partial Transcript: Barbara, you were born in Cincinnati, Ohio, and raised in the
Chicago area. Can you talk a little bit about growing up

Segment Synopsis: Barb Tetenbaum (BT) was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, and grew up in the Chicago area, in Clarendon Hills. Her father was a scientist for General Electric and then Argonne National Laboratory. Her mom was also a scientist who then raised three children and eventually became a science teacher. They went to the Art Institute of Chicago and spent a year in England and traveled to museums throughout Europe. In high school, BT took ceramics, metals, design and drawing. In college, BT planned to focus on psychology, which is evident in her artists' books.

Keywords: Art Institute of Chicago; Clarendon Hills; England

00:04:12 - The College Years

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Partial Transcript: So I chose Madison not so intentionally. I really wanted to go
to a small school, not be absorbed into some giant experience.

Segment Synopsis: BT wanted to go to a small college, but her mom talked to her about UW-Madison's Integrated Liberal Studies program, which was like a little college within the big university. She really liked the ILS program but not the Psychology Department, so she decided to switch her major to art.

Keywords: Integrated Liberal Studies Program; Psychology Department

00:09:09 - Switching to Art & Studying Abroad

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Partial Transcript: And do you remember who your teachers were?

Segment Synopsis: Jim Linehan was a teaching assistant who taught BT one of her first college art classes. She took a number of 2D courses, including painting. Her parents weren't happy that she switched her major, but they paid more attention to her artwork after she won student awards for her work. She took metals with Fred Fenster and went to London with a group of art students from UW-Milwaukee. The semester abroad trip was organized by Robert Burkert and Nancy Ekholm Burkert. On the trip, BT became interested in making books. When she got back to Madison, she took lettering with Walter Hamady.

Keywords: Art Classes; Study Abroad; Teaching Assistants

00:16:09 - Learning from Walter Hamady

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Partial Transcript: And that class just really was probably one of the most
important classes I’ve ever taken. First of all, Walter was in really good form.
He was happy. He was really productive.

Segment Synopsis: Hamady's lettering class focused on making books. He was smart, funny and charismatic. Hamady was happy with BT's work and wanted her to take his typography class. She took papermaking first and then typography, which dealt with setting type. Her press name became Triangular Press.

Keywords: Papermaking; Triangular Press; Typography; Walter Hamady

00:23:24 - "Unreadable" Books

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Partial Transcript: Right. So you made a folded broadside. And so I made one. In
fact, I was just staring at it the other day.

Segment Synopsis: She wasn't interested in working with text and felt that people weren't reading the artists' books Hamady brought to class, so she decided to make a book that was "unreadable" for an assignment. She asked her nuclear physicist father to send her one of his academic papers and used it as the text of her book. Hamady was delighted with it and told her she could do whatever she wanted from then on. She sold Phase Transformations in the U-C and U-C-o Systems via Controlled Oxygen and Carbon Potentials to Harvard Library.

Keywords: "Phase Transformations"; Academic papers

00:31:52 - Challenging the Book Arts

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Partial Transcript: And then, I mean to follow on the footsteps of that was kind of
hard to do. But I continued to make books that I thought kept challenging
something. Like every book I made, I thought well now I’m going to do this in
order to make people think about this.

Segment Synopsis: BT wanted her books to be a mirror back to the readers. She saw books traditionally as an authoritative object, and she was doing her own experiments in cognitive theory by created unexpected books. She wanted readers to feel complicit in the book experience. She took papermaking with Hamady, who taught her how to see. The students helped each other out, and handmade paper is very forgiving when it comes to printing.

Keywords: Cognitive thoery; Handmade paper

00:39:25 - Colophons & Kathy Kuehn

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Partial Transcript: But I don't know if it was Kathy Kuehn so much, but a number of
years ago, there was, the Southern Graphics Conference came to Madison.

Segment Synopsis: The Southern Graphics Conference came to Madison, and BT analyzed the colophons of books by Hamady and UW alums. Kathy Kuehn was "the driving force" behind many of the book projects and was mentioned in numerous colophons for her help.

Keywords: Colophons; Kathy Kuehn; Southern Graphics Conference

00:42:30 - Atmosphere in the Art Department

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Partial Transcript: It would be interesting to talk to people that graduated maybe
in the later years of Walter’s time there, to see if they had that same
collaborative atmosphere. Have you had, I’m trying to think who you might have
talked to.

Segment Synopsis: BT reflections on the ways in which different people worked together within the art program. Being one of the younger students studying book arts gave BT "permission to be a punk."

Keywords: Collaborations; Graduate students

00:45:34 - "O Abecedarian" and subsequent projects

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Partial Transcript: So I guess you were talking about your first book. And then you
were talking about your approach in making books. And that you wanted to kind of
invite the reader to participate more in the reading of the book, and not be so
passive. Did you want to talk about other books that you made as a student? Is
that kind of where you were headed?

Segment Synopsis: Also while a student, BT made Oabecedarium, directing the readers' gaze to different locations on the pages. Kathryn Clark of Twinrocker admired that book and invited BT to set up their press. BT collaborated on Sequential Picture Plane with fiber artist Ann Caroll.

Keywords: Drawing; Fiber artist

00:50:59 - Twinrocker Handpaper Mill

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Partial Transcript: Could you tell me a little bit more about Twinrocker? Where was
that again?

Segment Synopsis: After graduating, BT helped establish the press at Twinrocker Handmade Paper in Indiana. Being their printer-in-residence gave BT a sense of authority, and she learned even more about papermaking.

Keywords: Handmade paper; Indiana; Twinrocker

00:55:38 - Encouraging Tetenbaum to pursue Book Art

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Partial Transcript: Yeah. So let’s see. So, yeah, that was really

Segment Synopsis: Kathy Keuhn and Walter Tisdale encouraged BT to think of herself as a book artist by asking about her next projects. Artists' books give you an audience: "When you have a book finished, there's your exhibition." Kuehn sent BT care packages.

Keywords: Book artist; Care packages; Kathy Kuehn

00:59:01 - Silver Buckle Press

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Partial Transcript: And then, what about, when did you work at the Silver Buckle
press, then?

Segment Synopsis: BT worked for seven years at the Silver Buckle Press after Kuehn. Silver Buckle funded BT's trip to the Frankfurt Book Fair. BT had more autonomy and hired student help. She coordinated A Printer's Exquisite Corpse and later left the Silver Buckle Press to teach book arts in Portland, Oregon.

Keywords: Europe; Frankfurt Book Fair; Silver Buckle Press

01:05:47 - Looking for "Shifts"

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Partial Transcript: I think, you know, I could have stayed [The Silver Buckle] for a
long, long time.

Segment Synopsis: Madison was full of strong women, but BT was frustrated romantically because she was looking for a relationship with a man. She found out she got the job at the Oregon College of Art and Craft as well as a Fulbright Scholarship to teach in Leipzig, Germany.

Keywords: Oregon College of Arts & Crafts

01:09:42 - MFA at Art Institute of Chicago

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Partial Transcript: But back to graduate school. So when I was at Twinrocker, I was,
you know, I’m not somebody who really, I think, would ever make a living on my
own as an artist or as a printer.

Segment Synopsis: In graduate school at the Art Institute of Chicago, BT wanted to make books using methods other than letterpress. During her first semester, she want to Germany and East Berlin. After her trip, she started making books that were "ugly but challenged the notion of what made sense." She made Old Lady Book to challenge readers' expectations.

Keywords: Art Institute of Chicago; East Germany; Letterpress

01:16:37 - Reflecting on Graduate School

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Partial Transcript: So graduate school was really bad, I would say. I don’t love the
Art Institute of Chicago. Sorry, Art Institute of Chicago. I’m one of many who
would say that.

Segment Synopsis: The Art Institute didn't give much guidance, although BT met important artists and people there. Graduate school helped her understand what she didn't want.

Keywords: Art Institute of Chicago

01:18:21 - End of First Session 01:18:28 - Second Session Interview Introduction 01:18:49 - Teachers at Art Institute of Chicago

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Partial Transcript: Barb, I wanted to start this session with a little bit of
wrap-up from the last one. You mentioned that you met at the school of the Art
Institute of Chicago Buzz Spector and Felipe Ehrenberg. And I wondered if you
could talk a little bit about what you learned from them while you were in

Segment Synopsis: As a graduate student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Barb Tetenbaum (BT) studied with Buzz Spector, who taught her about offset-printed books. She also met Felipe Ehrenberg, who was at the Art Institute for a semester.

Keywords: Art Institute of Chicago; Buzz Spector; Felipe Ehrenberg

01:21:40 - Paper Book Intensive

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Partial Transcript: And you also went to the paper and book intensive in Michigan
before graduate school, which we didn’t get to talk about last time. Could you
tell us a little bit about that experience?

Segment Synopsis: Before graduate school, Tim Barrett invited BT to work as an assistant at the Paper and Book Intensive (PBI) in Michigan, a "career-changing experience." Walter Hamady, Hedi Kyle and Gary Frost were also at the first PBI. It led to a shift in the book arts and conservation practices.

Keywords: Book Conservators; PBI; Paper and Book Intensive; Paper-making

01:25:33 - Relationship between Book Arts & Book Conservation

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Partial Transcript: Can you talk a little bit more about how you see the
relationship between the book arts and conservation? Because I know last time
you also mentioned your interest in working with Jim Dast here.

Segment Synopsis: Book conservators study history, chemistry and bookbinding. They think of the mechanics of books and the impact on readers.

Keywords: Book Conservation; Book Mechanics

01:27:17 - Working at Artist Books Works & Faculty Culture at UW

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Partial Transcript: I know also you were invited to teach at Artist Books Works.
What was that like?

Segment Synopsis: BT taught at Artist Bookworks and then at the Art Institute as a TA. In the 1960s through the 1980s, some professors with tenure didn't take their responsibilities seriously, and some professors didn't accept female faculty members as equal. So BT didn't intend to teach. 

Keywords: Teaching; Women faculty

01:32:56 - Tetenbaum's Collaboration Process

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Partial Transcript: You started to mention that you’ve collaborated with some of the
people that you met at the paper and book intensive, and you also have
collaborated with people who went to UW Madison. Could you talk a little bit
about some of those books? And your collaborations and your

Segment Synopsis: BT collaborated with artists, including Walter Tisdale on Fishtales, Phyllis McGibbon on A Chronology of Events, and Julie Chen.

Keywords: Accordion structure; Letterpress; Lithography; Walter Tisdale

01:39:30 - "Ode to a Grand Staircase"

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Partial Transcript: I know one of the books that you worked on together was Ode to a
Grand Staircase.

Segment Synopsis: BT discusses the origin of Ode to a Grand Staircase, a collaboration with Julie Chen. Both artists are also musicians, and they decided to make a work inspired by composer Erik Satie. They came up with a structure, and then BT began printing. The book became something that neither artist would have come up with on her own.

Keywords: Colophon; Erik Satie; Music

01:44:42 - Gymnopedies Series

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Partial Transcript: So you mentioned the Gymnopedies series. Could you talk a little
bit about that?

Segment Synopsis: Gymnopaedia series was originally born out of frustration and full of play. In Gymnopaedia No. 5: A Day Without Words, BT paired soothing images with text from a heartbreak.

Keywords: Erik Satie; Germany; Heartbreak; Plaid; Tye Pye wire

01:53:33 - "A Powerfully Exciting Short Story"

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Partial Transcript: I wanted to ask you about A Powerfully Exciting Short Story,
which we have here at the Kohler, too. Can you talk about, can you first
describe that book and talk a little bit about how that came to

Segment Synopsis: A Powerfully Exciting Short Story asks "What does it mean to be a reader?" BT was invited to teach at Fishtrap's annual summer gathering, where she read from this book to an audience of writers, who were roaring with laughter.

Keywords: Psychology; Readers; Stories

01:58:11 - "Mining My Antonia" & the Works of Willa Cather

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Partial Transcript: What about, I don't know if I’m skipping over anything that you
want to talk about. But more recently, you worked on Mining My Antonia. Could
you talk about that book?

Segment Synopsis: Mining My Antonia repackaged the experience of BT's installation inspired by the Willa Cather novel. Separately, BT received an invitation to Hartford to print with Kathy Kuehn. BT made plates of five automatic drawings turned etchings, each inspired by a section of My Antonia. The etchings became part of Mining My Antonia, which also includes excerpts from the novel used in the installation. BT has read more works by Cather, and Cather's work continues to inspire BT.

Keywords: Etchings; My Antonia; Willa Cather

02:06:45 - Continuing to Create Artist Books

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Partial Transcript: Kind of the next thing that I wanted to ask you was why you
continue to make artist books all these years.

Segment Synopsis: BT continues to make artists' books because she's inspired by the work of other book artists. She wants to keep the book alive as a form of communication and preserve the haptic experience of interacting with a book as an object.

Keywords: Future of books; Inspiration

02:09:50 - Teaching Book Arts Today

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Partial Transcript: I think that’s also a good segue into talking about your
teaching, and how is it for you teaching now. You’ve been teaching for a while,
and things are different today. What is it like to be a teacher of book arts

Segment Synopsis: BT says in 2018 it's an exciting time to teach book arts. Students want to create books as a contrast to a world of swiping on digital devices. More students have had experience with book arts before they get to college. She shares stories about Walter Hamady and connects them to a legacy of making books. She mostly teaches undergraduates at the Oregon College of Art and Craft.

Keywords: Book binding; Digital; Letterpress; Oregon College of Art & Craft; Students; Teaching

02:16:49 - The Benefits of Letterpress Printing

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Partial Transcript: And Barb, can you tell me in your own words, like what do you
see as the real benefits of letterpress printing?

Segment Synopsis: The benefits of letterpress include control and knowledge. BT says working with computer software means the computer controls the typography, but you learn more with the constraints of letterpress. She says writing letter forms by hand is helpful experience when it comes to setting type.

Keywords: Computers; Letterpress

02:20:00 - Teaching Abroad

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Partial Transcript: You had a fellowship at the Center for the Book Arts in New
York. And you also have taught abroad. Could you tell us about those

Segment Synopsis: Teaching abroad had a big impact on BT's life. She was influenced by the people she met and continues to have connections in Germany.

Keywords: China; Germany; New York

02:25:00 - New Projects & "The Slow Read"

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Partial Transcript: And I know that you were going to talk about your most recent
book project. Would you like to do that now?

Segment Synopsis: BT created The Slow Read project with collaborators to honor the centenary of the publication of Willa Cather's My Antonia.

Keywords: Public Art Project; Willa Cather

02:31:38 - Final Thoughts

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Partial Transcript: I think really, I just wanted to ask if you had any final
thoughts? If there was anything we didn't get to. And then like how you see your
time at the UW as impacting your career?

Segment Synopsis: The UW had a lot of resources, and BT feels fortunate to have met the people in her cohort.

Keywords: Libraries; Walter Hamady

02:33:36 - End of Interview