Ruth Lingen’s art is on display at some of the nation’s top museums, including the Art Institute of Chicago and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. But Madison museum-goers are lucky to be able to experience the work of the UW-Madison alum — and her voice — at the Chazen Museum of Art through April 19.

Speaking of Book Arts: Oral Histories from UW-Madison is a multimedia exhibit of artists’ books created by graduates of UW-Madison, from 1973-2006, held by the Kohler Arts Library. Audio excerpts gathered by the UW-Madison Archives Oral History Program punctuate the show with the voices of alumni recounting stories of how they became artists and how they undertook their work. The books themselves are special; the audio adds a whole new dimension.

“Artist’s books are creative expressions of the idea of a book,” says Lyn Korenic, director of the Kohler Art Library. “They are engaging, stimulating and really totally unexpected.”

Since they are handmade art objects, these books are often of a limited edition. The Kohler Art Library boasts an international collection of 1,200 artists’ books.

“Each book is kind of its own world unto itself,” says Lingen. “You can have any kind of tone of the work, and that’s complemented by whatever images you want to put in it and you construct the binding and you make the paper.” Bookmaking is now formally part of the UW-Madison art department.

Lingen graduated in 1984 with a master’s degree in graphic arts. She studied printmaking, papermaking, typography and binding and founded Poote Press, located in Brooklyn, New York. Since then, she’s been involved in nearly 40 book projects.

Read at The Isthmus