The Tyler Museum of Art is embarking on a collaboration with a fellow Smith County nonprofit that explores the printed word as a work of art.

Its next major exhibition, "Books, Books & More Books: Works by MANUAL," will be on view Aug. 18 to Nov. 10. It is being presented in collaboration with with Literacy Council of Tyler. 

Organized by the Tyler Museum of Art and curated by the museum's Caleb Bell, "Books, Books & More Books" spotlights photographic works from the ongoing Book Project by MANUAL, the artistic collaboration of Suzanne Bloom and Ed Hill that began in 1974.

The photographs in the exhibit present a wide variety of books in dynamic compositions “visually exploring their importance in our lives,” Bell said.

Though created within the classic genre of still life, the artistic duo sees its work more as “staging discrete dramas on a very small stage,” they wrote. “What we may be doing in this extended project is just a different form of romance with the book than is reading and researching.”

The idea of an exhibition celebrating the physical, bound book as a work of art – and a gateway to the imagination – attracted both Tyler Museum of Art and Literacy Council of Tyler leadership. It is the first time the organizations have collaborated on a project.

“Many of our students, like others in Tyler, have never had the chance to interact with visual art in a museum setting, and to be able to introduce them to this world through the medium of books is a uniquely approachable and relatable opportunity,” LCOT Executive Director Nancy Crawford said. “I think this exhibition reveals the true nature of books as works of art, from the standpoint of the content inside, the cover art, and even the tactile experience of holding a book and turning its pages.

"We think the exhibition will show our students that reading is truly an artful experience that they can begin to enjoy and appreciate on so many new levels as they pursue their educations at Literacy Council of Tyler," she continued.

Support for "Books, Books & More Books" is provided by The Byars Foundation and Tyler Today Magazine, with assistance from Moody Gallery of Houston.

General admission is $5 for adults and $3 for senior citizens. TMA members, students, children under 12, TJC faculty and staff, and City of Tyler employees are admitted free.

The museum is a partner in the nationwide Blue Star Museums program, which offers free admission to thousands of museums for active duty military personnel and their families from now until Labor Day.

Tyler Museum of art is located at 1300 S. Mahon Ave. across from Wagstaff Gymnasium at Tyler Junior College. It is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Jon Perry is the communications director at Tyler Museum of Art.

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