Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, and Changemakers who are advancing the UN SDGs.
Hey, friends! It's Spiffy, back again on Planet Earth with an eye on changemaking leaders who’re making the world a more equitable place! I have another great interview for you this week. Today, I have the pleasure of cruising around with Corina Reynolds, the executive director of Center for Book Arts. Let’s see what she’s been up to!
Spiffy: Thanks for joining me, Corina! Tell me, what challenge are you addressing through your organization?
Corina: Excited to cruise with you, Spiffy! Books are an excellent format for artists to share their ideas in a way that is private and public at the same time. In order to receive the content a book has to offer, you must hold it in your hands, touch its cover, and turn its pages. Books can also be made in large quantities and in portable formats, making them ideal for sharing creative ideas with a large number of people in different places all at once. At the Center for Book Arts, we believe that everyone should have access to the skills to produce and share their own books.
Spiffy: Very cool! What motivates you to tackle this challenge?
Corina: In college, I was introduced to the idea that a book could communicate complicated ideas with or without words. Artists' books are one of the ways artists and creative thinkers can share their ideas. At Center for Book Arts, we are particularly invested in expanding access to the means of publication, and championing the importance of democratized speech. Books have a history of being banned or censored, a troubling trend that continues today. Books that are produced by individuals—outside of the publishing industry—provide infinite opportunities for people to share their diverse ideas and perspectives with others.
Spiffy: That’s awesome! How would you describe the impact of your work?
Corina: Our work operates on several levels, the most important of which is expanding access to the means and tools of publication. By teaching the art of the book and showing students, artists, and researchers the incredible range of this field, we create opportunities for people no matter where they come from or what their background is. Providing access to the skills and tools needed to produce one's own books lifts up voices that are often overlooked by traditional publishing methods and allows them to be heard.
Spiffy: Tell me about a recent milestone or initiative by you or your team. What impact does that make?
Corina: As we approach our 50th anniversary in 2024, Center for Book Arts remains committed to its mission of expanding access and uplifting diverse voices within our field. Artists' books can contain more than printed words and are capable of communicating through all of the senses. A book's materials are tactile (e.g. the binding moves), can make sound, and can have a scent. The physical experience of a book is an essential part of its artistry. With that in mind, we are currently looking forward to hosting a researcher who will work with our librarian and collections to explore how the field of artists' books can be an inclusive and accessible space for individuals with disabilities and mobility limitations.
Spiffy: Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?
Corina: At Center for Book Arts, we have an incredible collection of over 3,000 artists' books available for the public to see, both in-person and through our online library database. There are countless ways to make an artists' book, involving almost any material you can imagine. A fun example is "5 Ketchups," a hardcover book by an artist named Ben Denzer, in which the pages are made of fast-food ketchup packets instead of paper.
Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Corina—it’s been an honor!
Corina Reynolds is the executive director of Center for Book Arts in NYC, and co-founder of Book Art Review. She holds an MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art and co-founded Small Editions, an artists’ book publisher whose publications are held in numerous collections, including the Met, the MoMA, and the Whitney. (First published on the Ladderworks website on March 8, 2023.)
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Ladderworks LLC.
© 2023 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by George Romar. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.