Author (Your Name)

Rachel Tobie, Colby College

Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Colby Access Only)


Colby College. Art Dept.


Veronique Plesch

Second Advisor

Peter Harris

Third Advisor

Daniel Rosenfeld


The idea for the exhibition Word and Image in the Contemporary Artist's Book was developed during my sophomore year at Colby College, when I declare an independent major. My dual commitment to language and art made it difficult for me to choose between majoring in English or in art. I am fascinated by the ways in which words and images overlap and complement one another in bookmaking, collage, poster design, illustrated texts, and illuminated manuscripts. With the support of my advisors, Veronique Plesch of the Art Department and Peter Harris of the English Department, I developed an independent major in Word and Image Studies that has allowed me to explore the various interactions between words (through creative writing and literature courses) and images (through studio art and art history courses).

In the past twenty years, Word and Image Studies has become an established field of academic inquiry. "Word and Image is a pair of terms whose relation opens a space of intellectual struggle, historical investigation, and artistic/critical practice," writes W.J.T. Mitchell, a prominent scholar in the field. Word and Image Studies is a broad field, and its scope continues to grow. Issues of textual/visual relations occupy the attention of scholars in disciplines such as literature, art criticism, art history, and linguistics and of artists in media such as illustration, printmaking, bookmaking, and theatre and dance. Witness to the vitality of the field is the International Association of Word and Image Studies (IAWIS), which was founded in July 1987.

It soon became clear that artist's books offered an ideal embodiment of the multifarious interactions between words and images. Artists' books may contain text that is based upon images, or images that are created specifically to correspond to the text, or text and images used interchangeably, or any of a great number of other relationships between words and images.

As a Colby student who designed her own major, I was expected to engage in a synthesizing research project during my senior year; an exhibition was a logical culmination. As the scale of this project demanded a large time commitment, my advisors suggested I apply to Colby's Senior Scholars Program. This college-wide program provides senior students with the opportunity to devote significant time to a major project in lieu of taking a full courseload during the student's senior year.


Full-text download restricted to Colby College campus only.


word, image, art, museum of art