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Arthur & Mata Jaffe Center for Book Arts Opens at FAU Libraries
Center Establishes University as a Major Contributor to Book Arts Education
BOCA RATON, FL (March 29, 2007) – Florida Atlantic University Libraries’ Arthur and Mata Jaffe Center for Book Arts, a 4,800-square-foot center that houses one of the nation’s most prominent collections of books handmade by artists, is open to the public by appointment, following a dedication and reception on Tuesday, March 27.
The Jaffe center, which occupies the third floor of the new Paul C. Wimbish Wing of the S.E. Wimberly Library, establishes FAU as a major national contributor to book arts education. The center will offer exhibitions, lectures, workshops, films, performances and classes in letterpress printing, bookbinding, handmade papermaking and box making.
The new center is largely the legacy of Mata Jaffe who, before she died in 2001, earmarked a substantial contribution for the expansion of the library and the Arthur and Mata Jaffe Collection: Books as Aesthetic Objects. She established this collection with her husband, Arthur, as a research center for artists’ books and limited editions. Their collection, which started as 2,800 books, has grown to nearly 8,000 items.
The collection consists primarily of visual books created more for their artistic merit than for their informational content. “Words and text were not our primary consideration in acquiring this collection, except as they bear on the artistry of the book,’’ said Arthur Jaffe, the collection’s founder and curator. “The collection has been assembled within a wide parameter of aesthetics and book structures.”
Many of the books were made from start to finish by the artists, including growing the material that is turned into the paper, making the ink, hand-printing or painting or decorating the book, and hand-binding it, often in innovative ways. Some of the books were created with alternative materials, such as aluminum, fabric, or wax on acid-etched glass.
“This is a specialized genre of art, and FAU has one of the major collections of this kind in the nation,” said Dr. William Miller, director of FAU Libraries. “The creation of the new center will allow us to expand our workshops and lecture series, increase our exhibit capacity, and better serve visiting scholars and book artists, as well as our own students and faculty.”
The Jaffe center, a hybrid of library and art gallery, is furnished with bamboo floors, European-styled furniture, glass walls and display cases. Arthur Jaffe’s own custom-made writing desk and chair, casual leather chairs, original artwork collected over his lifetime and other personal items are placed carefully throughout the center. A stained-glass window inspired by a small painting by calligrapher Suzanne Moore with the Chinese Proverb, “A Book is Like a Garden,” is lit and anchored in the wall behind a reception desk.
Jaffe has always been interested in books and the way they looked, but he has never considered himself a collector. “To be a collector means you have a goal and a focus,” said Jaffe. “I simply bought books that I loved to collect and that I knew I would want to look at again, and again, and again.”
Jaffe and his late wife donated the collection to FAU because they anticipated the pride of owning the books would diminish as they got older. They also favored a younger institution, knowing the collection would be better cherished at a university such as FAU. “I wanted it to be a hands-on collection for the public to enjoy,” said Jaffe.
Miller said he never envisioned the Jaffe collection becoming as large, prominent and important as it now is. “This is a tribute to Arthur's continued dedication in coming here every day, continuing to build the collection, proselytizing, and teaching, and to the staff that he has assembled, who are equally as dedicated to the teaching and outreach activities they conduct, in addition to building the collection,” said Miller.
The Jaffe center is part of the five-story, 20,000-square-foot library expansion that began in May 2005. In addition to support from the Jaffes and funds from the state’s matching gift program, the Wimbish wing was funded with generous support from Virginia and Peter MacEachron and their son, John MacEachron, of the Wimbish family; numerous benefactors of the Levine-Weinberger Jewish Life Center and Hillel of Broward-Palm Beach; and the FAU Student Government Association.
Hours for the Jaffe center are Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. by appointment. For more information, visit www.jaffecollection.org, or call the center at 561-297-0226 or special collections and archives at 561-297-3787.