a fair: curated by travis shaffer

A free, open and public photobook FAIR brimming with contemporary small, large, experimental, raw unfiltered, handmade, and outsourced books that are self-published, DIY, PoD, inkjet, newsprint, offset, in both open and limited editions made by independent local, national, and international publishers, photographers, and artists. A FAIR is a glimpse into the the prevalence of the book-form within contemporary 'photographic' practice. This exhibition features the works of Alec Soth's Little Brown Mushroom, a selection of over 150 books from the The Indie Photobook Library and various works by the members of the Artists' Books Cooperative, including their recent collaborative work titled 'ABCED'.


22 January 2013 - 15 February 2013
university of kansas
art + design gallery
lawrence, kansas

panel discussion

with Elijah Gowin, Larissa Leclair, Travis Shaffer, and moderator April Watson
Photo Forum at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
1 February 2013 at 7:30pm
university of kansas
art + design gallery
lawrence, kansas

exhibition participants

LBM [little brown mushroom]

Established in 2008 by Alec Soth, Little Brown Mushroom (LBM) is a small publishing house located in St. Paul, Minnesota. Working closely with photographers, writers and designers, LBM is committed to experimenting with new ways of creating and distributing visual stories.

ABC [artists' books cooperative]

ABC Artists’ Books Cooperative is an international network created by and for artists who make print-on-demand books.
 We are diverse but we collaborate. We don’t have a dogma but we know what we want. We work, we play, we dream, we imagine, we explore, we collect, we photograph, we draw, we write, we copy, we paste, we design, we edit, and we make books. Slow and spontaneous, small and excessive, serious and funny. We print on demand and we self-publish, self-determined, self-empowered, unfiltered.

iPL [indie photobook library]

Founded by Larissa Leclair in 2010, the Indie Photobook Library is an archive of self-published and indie published photobooks. This includes DIY, photobooks independently published and distributed, photography exhibition catalogs, print-on-demand photobooks, artist books, zines, photobooks printed on newsprint, limited edition photobooks, and non-English language photography books, etc. The iPL promotes and showcases the books in the collection through international pop-up and feature-length exhibitions, articles, conferences, guest lectures, and also preserves them as a non-circulating public library. Having a specific collection dedicated to this contemporary movement in publishing allows for the development of future discourse on trends in self-publishing, the ability to reflect on and compare books in the collection, and for scholarly research to be conducted years, decades, and centuries to come.


April M. Watson

Associate Curator of Photography - Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

April M. Watson holds a master’s degree in Art History from the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, and is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Kansas. She was awarded an NEA Curatorial Internship at the Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, where she worked on a retrospective of the artist William Christenberry. Watson has contributed writing and scholarship on photography and its history to numerous exhibitions and catalogues for the University of New Mexico Art Museum, the Center for Creative Photography, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Corcoran Gallery of Art and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. She has also taught courses in the history of photography at the University of Missouri - Kansas City, and in modern and contemporary art at the Kansas City Art Institute and the University of Kansas. She contributed to the award-winning monograph The Art of Frederick Sommer: Photography, Drawing, Collage (2005). 

Watson has curated numerous exhibitions at the Nelson-Atkins, including Time in the West: Photographs by Mark Klett & Byron Wolfe and Mark Ruwedel; Human/Nature: Recent European Landscape Photography; Hide & Seek: Picturing Childhood (co-curated); Thinking Photography: Five Decades at the Kansas City Art Institute (co-curated). She also served as the venue organizing curator for the exhibitions Beloved Daughters: Photographs by Fazal Sheikh and Edward Steichen: In High Fashion The Condé Nast Years. Recently, she co-curated the exhibition and contributed to the catalogue for  Heartland: The Photographs of Terry Evans, a career retrospective of the artist. She is currently at work on another major exhibition for Fall 2013, co-organized  with the St Louis Art Museum, titled Impressionist France: Visions of Nation from Le Gray to Monet.

Larissa Leclair

Leclair is an independent photography writer and curator, collector of photography and photography books, and Founder of the Indie Photobook Library. Her writings on photography have been published in the photo-eye Booklist, Photography Quarterly, Fraction Magazine and ArtVoices. She curated the exhibition Today’s Past: Images of Africa from 1952 to 1960 of photographs by David E. Apter at Yale University and re-appropriated the Zagourski postcard collection. She has photographed for the Chicago Field Museum and the U.S. State Department and has worked for Arena Editions, Outside Magazine, and the Santa Fe Workshops. She was a curatorial assistant for Philip Brookman with the exhibition Helios: Eadweard Muybridge in a Time of Change that was on view at Corcoran Gallery of Art from April 10-July 18, 2010 and most recently curated the exhibition “100 PORTRAITS.” (See Exhibitions/Events for more exhibitions.) Larissa Leclair is an Advisory Board Member for FotoWeek DC and is the Chair of its Book Committee. She is also a regular reviewer for Critical Mass. Larissa Leclair holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography and a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from Washington University in St. Louis and a Masters from Yale University.

Elijah Gowin

Gowin uses photography to speak about ritual, landscape and memory.  His photographs are in the collection of the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Center for Creative Photography, among others.  In 2008, he received a John S. Guggenheim Fellowship. Presently, he is an Associate Professor in the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Missouri-Kansas City where he directs photographic studies.  Gowin is represented by the Robert Mann Gallery, New York and Dolphin, Kansas City.

Travis Shaffer
Visiting Assistant Professor of Photo Media

Shaffer is a visual artist whose work spans the mediums of photography, digital imaging, and the artist's book. Shaffer, the curator of A FAIR, is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of Photo Media at The University of Kansas. In 2010, Shaffer received his MFA from the University of Kentucky and is a member of [ABC] Artist's Books Cooperative, a group of international artists working with Print-on-demand technologies. Shaffer's works have been exhibited in solo exhibitions, group exhibitions, and artist's book fairs throughout the US, Canada, and Europe.