Each year, Special Collections at RISD Library hosts a juried student artists' book contest to promote engagement with the book arts, investigation of the Library's artists' book collection, and creative production in the book form at RISD. The contest and accompanying exhibition attract on average 45 submissions from RISD undergraduate, graduate, and continuing education students. All of the entries are displayed in the annual Library exhibit. A team of RISD faculty members and professional artists serves as juror(s), selecting prize winners from the submissions. All purchase prizes receive a cash reward, and the selected student-made artists' books become part of the Library's collection. This year is the 7th installment of this program.
In 2014 when I first started in Special Collections we began conversations about outreach and the idea of an artists’ book contest was born. The late Jan Baker, Graphic Design Professor was one of the first jurors for the original contest in 2015. After the contest we debriefed and Jan asked what was the greatest obstacle for this contest to continue. I said money. A few months pasted and I was informed that we had received an anonymous gift so that we could continue the contest. I would find out later, it was Jan’s gift.
In Jan’s words “The aim of this competition is to encourage faculty in all mediums at RISD to use the Artists’ Book Collection as inspiration for their classes; in addition, for students to be stimulated by the collection to create their own Artists’ Books.”
Starting with the 5th year, the contest is named for Jan Baker and Laurie Whitehill, the former Special Collections Librarian. Recognizing their legacy and their combined 60 years of dedication and passion in the field of Book Arts.
Claudia Covert, Special Collections Librarian
We are very happy to announce that Nafis White is this year's juror.
Nafis White works in sculpture, photography, video, collage, sound and performance exploring issues of identity, equality, politics and landscape, using personal narratives to facilitate and build conversations with the viewer. Her approach is one that is heavily influenced by conceptualism, aesthetics and climate, both political and social, with much of her work inspired by the current Civil Rights Movement in the United States. Nafis employs many different strategies in the way that she visualizes and creates work, utilizing a multidisciplinary approach to her art making. White received her BFA in Sculpture with a Concentration in Art History from the Rhode Island School of Design before embarking on a year-long program at the University of London, Goldsmiths in the UK. Nafis returned to RISD in 2016 to study Digital Media and Printmaking and graduated with her MFA in 2018.
You can see more of Nafis White's artwork at nafiswhite.com.
RISD undergraduate, graduate, and continuing education students are
invited to enter an artists' book they have completed in the past year
(December 2019 - December 2020).
The winning purchase prizes will be added to the
Fleet Library at RISD's Artists' Book collection.
Due to COVID-19 RISD students on leave may enter the contest.
Entries are online.
Purchase prizes will be announced in February, 2021.
In February, Library staff will be in touch with awardees to make arrangements for bringing the original physical book to the library.
Look for the next call in Fall 2021. Thank you!
By submitting an entry from, you are acknowledging that you are exhibiting your work at your own risk, and releasing RISD, and their employees, from any and all liability for my work. In addition, you are granting permission for any images, video, or other digital forms of the submitted work to be used for publicity, promotion or any other purposes deemed desirable by the Fleet Library at RISD. This includes, but is not limited to, use within the library or RISD, library websites, and social networking websites. You also understand that if your entry is selected, it will be included in the Library’s Collection and will not be returned.