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Artists Book Works records

Identifier: Wing-Modern-MS-ABW

Scope and Content of the Collection

Organizational and administrative records of Artists Book Works, a non-profit studio created for the use of book artists founded in 1983 by Barbara Lazarus Metz (1930-2011). The ABW Records include planning and publicity materials, correspondence, and financials for workshops, residencies, and exhibits sponsored by ABW. Also included are many original art works, including copies of broadsides and artist book multiples made in class, a broadside series sponsored by ABW, and most of the original art works shown in ABW’s mail art exhibitions.


  • Creation: 1982-2012
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1983-1993



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Artists Book Works records are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Artists Book Works records are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections at

Biography of Barbara Lazarus Metz

Barbara Lazarus Metz studied interior design at California State University and earned a BFA at Mundelein College in 1973 and an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1977. She taught widely over the years, including stints at the Jane Addams Center, Loyola University, the School of the Art Institute, and in the Chicago Public Schools. She also worked as a visiting artist in several Midwestern arts organizations including Evanston’s Paper Press. She was an active member of many Chicago and national arts organizations including the Caxton Club and the Guild of Book Workers. She founded Artists Book Works in 1983 and closed it in 1993, when the staff of ABW joined forces with that of Paper Press and became part of Columbia College Chicago as the Center for Book and Paper Arts within the Department of Interdisciplinary Arts. Metz kept her studio in the former ABW premises and taught at Columbia College for a number of years thereafter. She died in 2011 and Columbia College named a fellowship in book arts in her name.

History of Artists Book Works (ABW)

Artists Book Works was founded by Barbara Lazarus Metz in 1983 as a non-profit studio to offer instruction and work space to book artists in the Chicago area. ABW offered classes in a number of fields relating to book art (calligraphy, binding, paper decoration, printing), sponsored exhibitions, including a long running international mail art annual called Winter in Chicago, hosted many visiting artists, and made its equipment available to local artists. Regular teachers included Mary Jo Bang, Pamela Barrie, Melissa Jay Craig, Barbara Korbel, and Miles DeCoster. Other artists who worked at ABW and whose original art is represented in the archive (often in early examples) include: Caren Heft, Amos Paul Kennedy Jr., Bea Nettles, Audrey Niffenegger, and the Zhou brothers. ABW closed its doors in 1993 upon the formation of the Center for Book and Paper Arts at Columbia College.


23 Linear Feet (40 boxes, 3 oversize boxes, and 1 record carton)


Non-profit public education organization founded in 1983 by Barbara Lazarus Metz. Its records consist of administrative files, files on artists active in book work, and original art works created at the Artists Book Works studio or exhibited in its galleries.


The ABW Records are in two distinct parts. Most of the administrative files were donated in 1997 and are preserved in their original order, as maintained in her studio by Barbara Metz, in series 1-5. Additions in 1999 and 2011 included many original art works, which have been sorted into several appendix series. The “Winter in Chicago” mail art works were boxed by year at ABW and have here been rearranged to allow access to the works of individual artists.

Papers are organized in the following series:

Series 1: Subjects, 1982-1993
Boxes 1-8
Series 2: Classes and workshops, 1982-1998
Boxes 8-10, 25, 26
Series 3: Exhibits, 1985-1997
Boxes 10-16
Series 4: Fundraising and grants, 1983-1994
Boxes 16-25
Series 5: Slides and photographs, 1983-1993
Boxes 26-29
Appendix 1: Artists and presses, 1983-1993
Boxes 30-31
Appendix 2: “Winter in Chicago” exhibits, 1987-1993
Boxes 32-39
Appendix 3: Additional administrative files, 1993-2012
Boxes 39-40
Appendix 4: Oversize materials, 1984-1993
Boxes 41-44

Collection Stack Location

3a 59 4-5


Gift of Barbara Lazarus Metz, 1997 and 1999; additional materials from her estate, 2011.

Processed by

Adrian Alexander, 2005, 2012-2014; Robert Williams, 2015.

Inventory of the Artists Book Works records, 1982-2012, bulk 1983-1993
Adrian Alexander and Robert Williams
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States