Historically, collection-building for museums has gone on behind-the-scenes. In the last decade, more institutions have offered transparency regarding how collections are developed, stored, and conserved. Open Storage offers a series of exhibitions that clarify this process by drawing attention to some of RAM’s particular strengths—collecting the work of artists in-depth and establishing archives that further document their working processes and careers. While RAM frequently talks about the importance of gifts from donors’ estates, archive building—both by artists and institutions—is critically important for the field because it offers a more comprehensive look at creative activity.
This exhibition features the work of two artists—Walter S. Hamady and Claire Van Vliet—through multiple examples of their work. Both primarily focus on artists’ books. Hamady was a long-time University of Wisconsin-Madison professor and founder of The Perishable Press Limited while Van Vliet is a MacArthur Fellow and founder of Janus Press. RAM’s archive has artists’ book examples from both as well as other types of their work—collages and sculpture by Hamady alongside prints by Van Vliet.