Artists’ Books and Feminine Ideals

Our department is fortunate enough to have a growing collection of artists’ books. A number of these works by female artists investigate the concepts of beauty and femininity.

The Rational Corset Body

During a recent show-and-tell, we brought out Tamar Stone’s The Rational Corset Body. The entire book hangs on a padded pink hanger. The outermost layer of the artist’s book consists of a corset with garters. It opens to reveal a doll’s dress that, in turn, houses a doll’s corset vest. Stone uses corsets and other corrective garments to explore the notions of fitting in and how children learn to act and dress as adults. Stone herself wore the Milwaukee brace as a teenager to correct scoliosis, which adds a personal element to these books about physically defining and confining women’s bodies. (For more information, please see the artist’s website: Art of Tamar Stone.)

Stone, Tamar. The Rational Corset Body. 2002. (N7433.4.S766 R38 2002 +Oversize)


One of our newest acquisitions, Lipstips, is made of slips of pink paper inside a lipstick tube. Housed in a red case with a quote from Carole Jackson on the inside mirror, the book “includes dozens of observations about the history, manufacture and general qualities of lipstick.” (Booksellers’ website)

Bailey, Alicia. Lipstips. 2001? (N7433.4 B25 L57 2001 Art)


Im-‘ped-e-ment by Cheri Gaulke includes stories of Chinese foot binding and quotes on the sexualization of women’s feet and shoes. It combines tales of injury and inhibition of growth with images of sprouting shoes and actual seeds.

Gaulke, Cheri. Im-‘ped-e-ment. 1991. (N7433.4.G38 I47 1991 Art)

Looking at Make-Up

Weisbrot’s Looking at Make-up is comprised of a powder compact, sponge, and fold-out text with quotes and women’s memories of make-up. The compact is housed in decorated sleeve.

Weisbrot, Marcia. Looking at make-up. 2000? (N7433.4.W45 L66 2000z Art)

Just Because I'm Blonde

In Just Because I’m Blonde, Suzanne Thomas examines common misconceptions about women. The miniature, cloth-bound book begins with “Just because I’m blonde, doesn’t mean I’m easy.” The captions accompany representative pictures.

Thomas, Suzanne. Just because I’m blonde. 2006. (N7433.4.T466 J87 2006 Art Undrsz)

About Alison M. Greenlee

Special Collections Librarian, McFarlin Library, The University of Tulsa.
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