In early January, we will be opening an exhibition at the Clark Library entitled Women of Letters. This exhibition will focus on the work of a group of women printers and book artists who live and work here in southern California. The group has existed for over twenty-five years.
Women of Letters was formed in May of 1980 as the direct result of an extraordinary week-long letterpress class led by Francis Butler the previous month at the Woman's Building in Los Angeles. After a frenzy of activity during which Francis encouraged her students to "claim your own stories" and to "do your own work,” Susan King gathered together classmates Marion Baker, Kitty Maryatt and Bonnie Thompson Norman to continue discussions about letterpress printing, focusing on how to choose appropriate typefaces for projects. Over the last twenty-six years that focus has shifted and broadened. Women of Letters meets approximately every six weeks to show and to discuss completed projects, as well as to critique ongoing work in printing, binding, printmaking, papermaking, photography and conservation.
Over the years, a total of twelve women have been members. Nine are currently active in California: Marion Baker (Printmaker Press); Nancy Bloch (Lemon Tree Press); Carolee Campbell (Ninja Press); Jean Gillingwators (Blackbird Press); Jill Littlewood (Littlewood Studios); Kitty Maryatt (Two Hands Press); Katherine Ng (Pressious Jade); Nancy Turner (Peripatetic Press); and Donna Westerman (Saltlick Press). Susan King (Paradise Press); Robin Price (Robin Price, Printer & Publisher); and Bonnie Thompson Norman (Windowpane Press) have moved to other states but continue to be active as book artists.