Self-published artist books and zines made by UAB students now part of Birmingham Museum of Art collection

Books, objects and records within the Birmingham Museum of Art’s library inspired the content of the works, created by 11 Department of Art and Art History students.

self published booksBooks from CAMERA-less students, collected in the Birmingham Museum of Art’s Clarence B. Hanson, Jr. Library.  Works by photography students from the University of Alabama at Birmingham have been added into the artist book collection of the Birmingham Museum of Art’s Clarence B. Hanson Jr. Library.

Throughout the second summer 2016 session, students from the College of Arts and SciencesDepartment of Art and Art History course “CAMERA-less” studied historical references and contemporary trends in photography and lens-based art.

The students investigated methods of image sequencing, editing and presentation of photographic and lens-based media across print, exhibition and online outlets. Class assignments challenged students to create artworks from social media content, image-based internet memes, surveillance footage and vernacular photographs.

Taught by DAAH Visual Media and Outreach Coordinator Jared Ragland, the class found support and inspiration for their research through contemporary artist books published by independent presses, including Horses Think, Empty Stretch and TIS Books.  

“Photography is in the midst of an uncertain, yet exciting, present,” Ragland said. “Through the shaping of found and constructed images, compressing histories of both canonical and commonplace photographs, and engaging with emergent technologies and social media applications, contemporary artists are critically engaging with the dilating character of globalized visual culture and expanding the possibilities for what a photograph might be. An ideal way for our students to participate in this unique moment is through the study of current trends in photographic publication and in the production of their own experimental works through bookmaking.”

daniel senkoDaniel Senko, Untitled (Sally Mann), 2016 from the artist book “Taking Portraits.”  As part of their studies, BMA Librarian Lindsey Reynolds invited the class to use the Clarence B. Hanson Jr. Library as both a studio space and primary source for image-making. Students used the books, objects and records within the library to create content, and by the end of the semester, each student had produced a limited-edition artist book or zine. A zine is a small-circulation, self-published work with roots in punk rock subculture and a do-it-yourself ethos that often employs photocopier printing and simple, handmade binding techniques.

“The Hanson Library at the BMA began an initiative to collect artists’ books and zines in 2014,” Reynolds said. “The zine collection in particular is focused on local makers. The library is very excited to be adding a copy of each of the zines created by the CAMERA-less students to the collection.”

Some of the artist books and zines made by the class include: “NAP” by Terrence Wimberly, which combines collaged images of traditional African hair with illustrations of flora and is packaged with an accompanying hip-hop/instrumental soundtrack; “Taking Portraits” by Daniel Senko, a collection of photographs made from dust jacket author portraits where glints of reflected light obscure the subject’s face; “…disorder” by Anne Marie Cartwright, which pairs psychological disorders with monochromatic reproductions of classical paintings; and “Wedgwood Digest” by Rachel Hendrix, in which Hendrix created and photographed Wedgwood-inspired recipes and paired the food with a Wedgwood piece from the BMA collection (example: a photograph of Hendrix’s spiced and gilded marble cheesecake sits across a book fold from an archive image of a group of marbled agate underglazed urns). Other books include Kerrie Allred-Pirkle’s “Kudzu,” Jonathan Givan’s “Life?” an untitled book by Jonah Grice, Peyton Hollis’ “Eye Contact,” “Anima Mundi” by Jacob Lawley, “Original Sin” by Meredith Martin and Augusta McKewen’s “Papercut.”

“The department is thrilled that the students’ work is a part of the Birmingham Museum of Art library’s permanent collection – not only as resource but as representation of the strong and meaningful connection between our institutions,” said Lauren Lake, chair of the UAB Department of Art and Art History.

The books from the CAMERA-less course, along with the other artist books in the BMA collection, can be viewed at the Clarence B. Hanson Jr. Library by appointment. To schedule a visit, email

For more information, contact Jared Ragland at or visit the Birmingham Museum of Art’s website at