from Library Perspectives: The newsletter for the Friends of the Oberlin College Libraries, Spring 2019, Issue 60
Woodbury Papercut Gift
Steven ’68 and Ann Woodbury have donated their extensive collection of books and ephemera related to papercut art, papercut book illustration, folk papercutting, and associated materials to the Oberlin College Libraries. The donated materials will be housed in both the Clarence Ward Art Library and the Mary Church Terrell Main Library’s Special Collections Department.
Steve Woodbury became
interested in folk papercutting in the 1970s when
he was introduced to Pennsylvania German traditional paper cutting (Scherenschnitte). His interest led him to become a founding member and first president of the Guild of American Papercutters.
The collection comprises roughly 1,100 books, pop-up books, and pamphlets. Some of the books are illustrated with papercut art while others discuss paper sculpture, paper engineering, portrait silhouettes, and folk papercutting traditions (including Chinese, Japanese, Polish, Jewish, German, English, American, Mexican, Filipino, and others). Additionally, the collection includes several examples of shadow puppets and books about shadow theater.
Ed Vermue, Special Collections Librarian, notes that the Woodbury Papercut Collection “creates a wonderful opportunity to draw students’ attention to the vast multicultural history of silhouette art and maker craft. Some of the primary sources included in the collection have already drawn the attention of faculty teaching about animation, puppet theater, and 19th-century folk traditions.” He looks forward to incorporating large sections of the collection into classroom instruction and individual student projects.
Head of the Clarence Ward Art Library Barbara Prior believes “the variety of papercut specimens, from an early 20th-century mission school in China to modern Mexican papel picado, will interest artists—for their technique and effects—as well as those exploring visual culture in a variety of fields.” She notes that “the collection is rich with secondary sources, especially exhibition catalogs and monographs, documenting the use of papercutting techniques in contemporary art.”
Some of the books have already found their way into student instruction, thanks to junior Sophie Drukman-Feldstein, who taught an ExCo course on papercutting last fall and was pleased to have these resources available.