Award-winning artist teaches book arts course


"A Drowned Maiden's Hair" by Audrey Anna Rabalais. 

Nina Clevinger

Award-winning book artist and letterpress Amy Pirkle instructs three book arts courses in the Honors College at the University of Alabama.

The classes range from two different imaginative and innovative studio-based book art and paper-making courses, to an in-depth history of the creation of the art and art behind the practices.

The Georgia native began bookmaking during an abroad trip to Italy while she was still in college. Pirkle, a double major in art and English at the time, recalls seeing a book arts class on her available course options list for the trip and being immediately intrigued.

“Could it be possible there was a class out there that offered both of my loves combined?” Pirkle said.

After further delving into the world of book and paper-making, Pirkle began attending art residencies across the country and receiving numerous awards for her work. One of the residencies, Penland, doubles as a college campus in the spring, summer and fall seasons, and was another place where Pirkle has taught book arts courses.

Pirkle, although completely displeased with the situation, warned of the immediacy the 15-seat classes fill and of her inability to help extra students into the course.

“I absolutely would if I could, but I don’t even have the override option on my computer,” she said.

Former student Audrey Anna Rabalais said the class was one of her favorites offered by the University.

“There is so much room for creativity, and it’s so unlike any other course offered,” Rabalais said. “The class gave me confidence about a form of art I had never even heard of before. I absolutely loved the time I spent in book arts, and I would recommend it to anyone willing and able to set aside some time from their other classes.”