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The Arthur and Mata Jaffe Center at FAU Host Artists’ Books Created by Eighth-Graders to Deter Bullying 

BOCA RATON (June 18, 2010) - The Arthur and Mata Jaffe Center for Book Arts at Florida Atlantic University Libraries is hosting an exhibition of artists’ books created by eighth-graders to help deter bullying, through Friday, July 30, at FAU Libraries on the Boca Raton campus.

            Indiantown Middle School students created the books out of old textbooks that were being discarded at their school, and Jennifer Love Gironda, the school’s professional art educator, paid for materials for the project with an $800 grant from the Martin County Character Counts program.

           “My objective is to teach my students how artists can raise awareness through their art,” said Gironda. “A major issue that students deal with on a daily basis is bullying. Becoming more aware of the feelings of others is the best offense in preventing bullying.’’

            Gironda was planning a project on character traits when she heard about the old textbooks. She knew her students could make art out of the books, but she didn’t know how.

            While at the Wimberly Library on FAU’s Boca Raton campus waiting for her husband to finish classes one day, Gironda read about the Jaffe center, which houses one of the nation’s most prominent collections of handmade artists books. She e-mailed John Cutrone, the center’s programs coordinator.  In January, Cutrone took some of the center’s books to Indiantown so Gironda’s students could see them, and he could explain how they are made.

           The students focused on making altered books, the process of taking an existing book and repositioning it into art by adding or deleting materials. Gironda named the project “Altered Awareness: Expressing Themes of Respect, Fairness and Caring through Altered Books.” 

             For two months, the students cut away pages, painted, collaged and reassembled the books to express their understanding of the three traits. Respect, fairness or caring is reflected in each book. Students also shared their thoughts on the character traits with their classmates.

            Andrea Aguirre, 14, made a mini book that features a golden heart bejeweled with pink gem stones on the front cover and a pocket on the back. The book opens with a question, “what do you do to show someone you care?” Each page of the book features a letter to spell caring.

             “I really like the fact that my book is small and simple because I never really liked books,’’ said Aguirre. “I hope that someday ordinary books will be replaced by altered books.”

           Maggie Cardona, 14, who created a guitar-shaped book, said she is very familiar with bullying. “I’ve been bullied, and I’ve bullied others,’’ said Cardona. “I realized I shouldn’t because I should treat others the way I want to be treated, with respect.”  Cardona also said the project helped to reinforce the message that bullying is wrong. “Everyone should care, respect and be fair to one another because inside we are all the same. We are all human beings with feelings,” she said.

           Cutrone went to Indiantown because the students couldn’t afford to come to FAU to visit the Jaffe center. He considered the visit a field trip experience for the students because he introduced them to an art form they had not seen before. Cutrone, who is also a book artist, was impressed with the students’ books.

           “Their books were well thought-out, well made and engaging, and if you didn’t know these books were made by middle school students, you might be surprised to learn they were,” said Cutrone.

            The exhibition can be viewed during library hours, which can be found at or by calling 561-297-3770. For more information, visit

     -FAU -                       

About Florida Atlantic University:

Florida Atlantic University opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. Today, the University serves more than 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students on seven campuses and sites. Building on its rich tradition as a teaching university, with a world-class faculty, FAU hosts 10 colleges: Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts & Letters, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Biomedical Science, the College of Business, the College for Design and Social Inquiry, the College of  Education, the College of  Engineering & Computer Science, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Graduate College, the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. For more information, visit .

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