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Exhibition: Getting Physical: the Significance of Making Books by Hand, October-December 2015


Published October 28, 2015

"The Artistry of Daniel E. Kelm," the accompanying exhibition to the annual McGrath Lecture in Contemporary Book Arts in on view in the Mortimer Rare Book Room.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015
4:00 pm McGrath Lecture
Neilson Library Browsing Room, Level 1
5:30 pm Reception following lecture
Book Arts Gallery, Level 3
Oct.1-Dec. 15, 2015 Accompanying exhibition curated by Jessica Ryan, class of 2017, Mortimer Rare Book Room entrance/foyer, Level 3


Daniel E. Kelm holding one of his wire edge artist books, Rubeus—a collaboration with Timothy C. Ely. Photo credit: Greta D. Sibley

Daniel Kelm reprised his October 2015 McGrath Lecture as the Mortimer Lecture for Smith College Libraries staff and Book Studies Concentration students, Getting Physical, February 11, 2016 in the Mortimer Rare Book Room. His presentation was followed by an informal discussion of his unique artist book "The Golden Child," with text and artwork by Marilyn Goodrich. 

Daniel E. Kelm is a book artist who is known for his innovative structures and extensive knowledge of materials. Kelm enjoys expanding the concept of the book. He invented a style of bookbinding called “wire edge binding” in the mid-1980s in order to explore the nature of the book as articulated sculpture.

Kelm will present the annual McGrath Lecture in Contemporary Book Arts, a series which honors master printer Harold P. McGrath (1921-2000). McGrath printed for Leonard Baskin (Gehenna Press), Barry Moser (Pennyroyal Press), and Alan Robinson (Press of the Sea Turtle). McGrath shared his skills and his friendship with the next generation of book arts practitioners in the Pioneer Valley and beyond.

Kelm’s experience with bookbinding began in 1978 by working in the first of several production studios where he learned progressively more specialized traditional techniques. In 1983 he opened his own studio in Easthampton, MA, called The Wide Awake Garage, where he designs and produces artist’s books, interpretive fine bindings, and book sculptures.

His expression as an artist emerges from the integration of work in science and the arts. Before Daniel settled into his career in the book arts he received formal training in chemistry and taught at the University of Minnesota. Alchemy is a common theme in his book work. He uses the term “Poetic Science” to describe his exploration of the integration of science and art. 

Daniel teaches widely, and founded the Garage Annex School for Book Arts in 1990. Explore more of Daniel’s bookbinding and teaching at

A statement from Daniel E. Kelm about books and bookbindings:

“A book is most successful at telling a story when all components work together toward a single effect. So why is it that we expect words and images to be used to artistic purpose, but rarely demand the same of the binding? To many the binding provides—at most—an additional surface on which to compose visual elements. This strikes me as a lost opportunity. The deep, expressive qualities of a binding are to be found not just on its surface, but in its form, material, and movement. When these integrally support the text and imagery there is a synergistic effect, and the impact is potent.”

Daniel E. Kelm peering through one of his wire edge models, Metamorphic Book
Daniel E. Kelm peering through one of his wire edge models, Metamorphic Book. Photo credit: Joy Stein
Daniel E. Kelm’s cover design for The Sea of Isla Negra
Daniel E. Kelm’s cover design for The Sea of Isla Negra, an artist book by Manuel Neri. The cover design is based on the title page calligraphy by Thomas Ingmire and is decorated with dyed letterforms, air-brushed leather onlays, and gold stamping. Photo credit: Lee Fatherree


Barbara Blumenthal
Mortimer Rare Book Room
(413) 585-2906