Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Upcoming Exhibit: Chip Kidd

Art by Chris Ware for “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle” by Haruki Murakami, first American edition, 1997, published by Alfred A. Knopf. Jacket design by Chip Kidd.

“Everything Not Made by Nature Is Design,” an exhibition from the Chip Kidd Archives, on display Jan. 12 through April 24 in The Eberly Family Special Collections Library, features the archives of award-winning graphic designer and Penn State Distinguished Alumnus Charles “Chip” Kidd (Class of 1986). Hours are Monday to Thursday: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday: 1 to 5 p.m..

With praise like “the world’s greatest book-jacket designer” (from author James Ellroy) and “design demigod” (from New York magazine), it is easy to forget that Kidd is still in the prime of his career. The Pennsylvania native was born in 1964 in Lincoln Park, a suburb of Reading. After studying graphic design at Penn State with Distinguished Professor Emeritus Lanny Sommese, Kidd went to work at publishing house Alfred A. Knopf in 1986. Twenty-eight years later, Kidd has designed over a thousand book covers for Knopf and other freelance clients, for authors such as John Updike, Cormac McCarthy, Donna Tartt, Haruki Murakami and Michael Crichton — including the iconic cover of “Jurassic Park.” Kidd is the recipient of numerous awards, notably the Cooper-Hewitt Smithsonian Museum National Design Award, in 2007, and the American Institute of Graphic Arts Medal for lifetime achievement in 2014.

Kidd is also the author of several books of his own, including two novels: “The Cheese Monkeys,” a fictionalized account of his time at Penn State, and “The Learners,” which follows the autobiographical protagonist to his first job as a commercial designer. Other works include an original graphic novel, “Batman: Death by Design,” and a number of books about comics: “Bat-Manga!: The Secret History of Batman in Japan,” “Mythology: the DC Comics Art of Alex Ross” and “Peanuts: The Art of Charles M. Schulz.” His most recent book is “Go: a Kidd's Guide to Graphic Design.”

If all that were not enough, Kidd is also a prolific public speaker, including a popular 2012 TED Talk, and singer-songwriter for the rock band Artbreak, featuring Penn State dorm-mate Mars Trillion. In the additional role of editor-at-large for Pantheon Books, Kidd has worked on projects with some of the most acclaimed contemporary graphic novelists, like Chris Ware (the 2013 Lynd Ward Prize winner), Daniel Clowes, Ben Katchor, Charles Burns and Art Spiegelman.
Penn State’s Libraries acquired Kidd’s archives last year as more than 250 boxes of material and approximately one terabyte of digital data. The collection, which is still being processed and cataloged by the Special Collections Library staff, contains childhood memorabilia, student portfolios from Penn State, sketches, annotated manuscripts, original art, drafts and proofs of hundreds of designs that illuminate the creative process and the progression of works from concept through production. Remarkable correspondence with authors, artists, editors and other collaborators makes up a large portion of the archives as well. Print material includes rare first edition books, vintage comics and Kidd’s personal reference library on art history, design and typography. Altogether, the scope of the material provides valuable research opportunities for both scholars of literature and of pop culture.

The exhibition draws from early and late periods of the archive, featuring well-known works and never-before-seen student projects as well as selections from the extensive array of Batman collectibles. A gallery talk at 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 8, by the Kidd Collection archivist Alyssa Carver will discuss exhibit highlights and some of the challenges involved with organizing and preserving the hybrid (analog and digital) archive.

For additional information about this exhibition and gallery talk or if you anticipate needing accessibility accommodations or have questions about the physical access provided, contact Carver at aec26@psu.edu or 814-867-0289.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Hands-On History: Pennsylvania Forestry

Of all the Trees that ‘were’ in the Woods!  
To honor the 100th anniversary of John Muir's death, December 24, 1914, Special Collections will host a hands-on activity using holdings about Pennsylvania forestry and conservation movement. Staff and faculty are invited to explore Pennsylvania Forest history through a hands-on, primary source activity, on December 10, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., in the Special Collections Library. Attendees will use finding aids to locate letters, diaries, notes, photographs and more.  These items reflect elements of environmental, political, and gendered aspects of the history of lumber industry that invite comparison with contemporary resource extraction.  
 Engage your inner child this holiday season by joining in a trivia-scavenger hunt with Special Collections photographs, letters, rare books, diaries and pamphlets. Enjoy an hour of fun with colleagues and learn something new about Pennsylvania leadership in forest conservation suitable for this “wonderful time of the year.” 

For more information or questions regarding this event, please contact:  
Doris Malkmus
Outreach Archivist


Monday, October 27, 2014

New Exhibit Open! "Picturing Dogs, Seeing Ourselves"

“Picturing Dogs, Seeing Ourselves,” an exhibition in the B. and H. Henisch Photo-History Collection Exhibition Room, 201 A Pattee Library, is on display through March 31.

The exhibition coincides with the publication of a new book by the Penn State Press “Picturing Dogs, Seeing Ourselves: Vintage American Photographs,” by Ann-Janine Morey, Volume 4, in the series Animalibus: Of Animals and Culture. Books in the Animalibus series share a fascination with the status and the role of animals in human life. Crossing the humanities and the social sciences, these books ask us what thinking about nonhuman animals can teach us about human cultures, about what it means to be human,and about how that meaning might shift across times and places.

Since photography's invention in 1839, animals have been a subject. Early photography coincided with the beginning of the dog’s position as a household pet in Victorian society, and dogs were for the first time pampered and shown as members of the family in studio portrait art. But daguerreotypes, the earliest of the photographic processes, required subjects to remain motionless for several minutes, which meant that wagging tails often resembled fans when the plates registered the exposure.

Later in the century, faster lenses solved this technical problem. By the 1850s, with the introduction of the small carte-de-visite image, it became a popular custom to have the likeness of the family pet (most often dogs) made along with other family members. Meant to look proper and often posed on ornate chairs, every sort of friendly mutt appears. These charming studio poses were displayed with all of the other family portraits in albums made especially for preserving them. Near the end of the 19th-century, amateurs also took up photography, and thousands of photos produced an intimate view of daily life, immortalizing family groups where dogs show up with regularity.

The exhibition draws from 19th-century photographs representing many photographic processes found in the B. and H. Henisch Photo-History Collection and the William C. Darrah Collection of Cartes-de-visite, 1860-1900, both among the holdings of The Eberly Family Special Collections Library.

For more information, contact Sandra Stelts at sks5@psu.edu or 814-863-5388.