The American Alliance of Museums recently announced the winners of its 2017 Museum Publication competition, including the State University of New York at Fredonia for the Cathy and Jesse Marion Art Gallery exhibition catalogue titled “Kahn & Selesnick: Truppe Fledermaus and the Carnival at the End of the World.”
Fredonia Department of Visual Arts and New Media Associate Professor Jason Dilworth designed the catalogue. Marion Art Gallery Director Barbara Rӓcker coordinated the publication and curated the exhibition. The publication and exhibition were a collaboration with internationally renowned artists Nicholas Kahn and Richard Selesnick. The Marion Art Gallery competed against much larger organizations in the category of exhibition catalogues published by non-profit museums or galleries with an operating budget less than $750,000.
Among the 2017 competitors were the David Winton Bell Gallery at Brown University and Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art in Charleston, SC. Among past recipients of prizes in this category are: Katherine E. Nash Gallery, University of Minnesota (published in association with University of California Press); American Philosophical Society Museum, Philadelphia; Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, Charleston, S.C; Davis Museum, Wellesley, Mass.; and Gregg Museum of Art & Design, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, N.C.
AAM summarized the competition this way: “Superior execution and ingenuity in the graphic design of museum publications are recognized through the Museum Publications Design Competition, the only national juried competition of its kind. Winners are chosen for their overall design excellence, creativity and ability to express an institution’s personality, mission, or special features. Judges included graphic designers, museum professionals, and/or publishers.”
The untraditional format of the “Truppe Fledermaus” catalogue includes four accordion-fold brochures held together with a rich blue paper band (called a bellyband in the printing industry) with white foil lettering. Original Smith Printing in Bloomington, Ill., was chosen to print the catalogue because they are one of the few printers able to accommodate the special design. The catalogue includes essays by artist and writer Sarah Falkner and Ms. Racker. The essays and a fictional story by Kahn & Selesnick are richly illustrated with the artists photographs from their “Truppe Fledermaus” series and its sequel, the “Dreams of the Drowning World.”
“We are especially honored to receive this award from the American Alliance of Museums” said Racker. “AAM sets the standards for non-profit museums and galleries across the United States.” The Marion Art Gallery began its publication project in Spring 2016 as a way to attract artists of a higher caliber, expand its audience, and offer substantial interpretation for various audiences. Brochures and catalogues accompany most professional exhibitions in the gallery. They are offered free of charge to visitors, including Fredonia students, and middle and high school groups. They are distributed regionally, and sometimes nationally and internationally. The “Truppe Fledermaus” publication was mailed to numerous Kahn & Selesnick fans in Europe.