We invite you to view an exhibition of handmade books currently on display on the second floor of the Otto G. Richter Library. These books are the work of students in Professor Mia Leonin’s Introduction to Poetry class (English 292, Fall 2012), inspired by books in the Ediciones Vigía Collection at the Cuban Heritage Collection. Using the Vigías as examples, and with the expert help of Carol Todaro, a local artist specializing in book making, the students created their own books based on their experiences and interests.
What We Found Here: Miami Obscura, and Ruth Behar’s Everything I Kept/Todo lo que guardé (2001)
As part of the CHC Research Colloquia, Leonin and Todaro presented on February 22nd about their experience using Vigía as a teaching tool in the Introduction to Poetry class last semester. Both professors could not be more pleased with the outcome of their classroom experiment.
“It was love at first site for me,” explained Leonin as she described her interaction with the Ediciones Vigía handmade books made in Matanzas, Cuba. Her artisanal approach to poetry writing, which she encourages her students to practice, involves allowing the archives to enter through all the senses and be expressed in the final literary product. The Vigías fit this model perfectly as each book possesses a distinct smell, feel and visual intrigue.
Over the course of six weeks last fall, the students were free to explore their own ideas about themes and topics while the professors offered advice on elemental book structure and guidance when needed. The result was a medley of works of all shapes, sizes and colors, much like the Ediciones Vigía books themselves.
“We just opened up a floodgate for these students to have a reason to make these books they’d always wanted to make,” explained Todaro.
Also on exhibit is What We Found Here: Miami Obscura, a collaborative class project inspired by Ruth Behar’s Everything I Kept/Todo lo que guardé, published by Ediciones Vigía in 2001.
Mia Leonin and Carol Todaro with a selection of Ediciones Vigía after their presentation.