Julie Leonard has been making books and book-related objects since 1987. Prior to that she received a BA in History from Vassar College, worked for an independent record label in Boston, MA, and studied Graphic Design at the New England School of Art & Design. She was a Core-Fellowship student and Resident artist at Penland School of Craft in NC, and worked for a number of years as an independent bookbinder and craftsperson. She is currently Associate Professor of Book Art at the University of Iowa Center for the Book and maintains a studio in Iowa City, Iowa.
“Making use of the book as an artistic medium is possible partly because of what we bring to the book, our collective connection with it. Since its inception we have imbued books and writing with a spiritual or magical aspect that goes beyond its physical or contextual properties. Books can act on us as an icon or reliquary does, evoking a spiritual reaction, a contemplative psychic space. My work is divided between the study of historical book binding structures and the creation of contemporary artist books. At first glance, the two areas may seem far apart from one another, but in practice each feeds the other. Gaining an understanding of the development of bookbinding back to the 2nd century has given me a deep and intensive understanding of how the book as a physical object functions as well as how that object has functioned in society.”