April 29, 2015
By Rachel Rogol

Kimball photo class Professor Kimball and his advanced photography students constructing collaborative art books.

Seven students in Professor Justin Kimball's advanced photography course "Eight People, One Place and a Book" spent the fall 2014 semester traveling to photograph the Village of Turners Falls, Mass., about half an hour from Amherst. Upon arrival each week, they split up to take photographs on their own with the goal of building individual bodies of work. 

The course description also called for Kimball and his students to collectively design and produce a limited edition book that would weave together the varied ways each person saw, experienced and produced work from the same place. Though the course was originally scheduled for only the fall 2014 semester, Kimball says, "We quickly realized to do this properly we needed two semesters." So he extended the course through spring 2015. 

The extra semester allowed Kimball and his students to put finishing touches on their individual projects while working together to design the collective book. With the help of Sara Smith, Amherst's arts and humanities librarian, Kimball says he and the students looked at many different art books to find the right form for their project. In the end, they designed eight individual booklets (one for each student plus Kimball) and worked together to construct wooden "boxed sets" that open to reveal the booklets:

Boxed set The closed "boxed set" (at top) opens to reveal eight individual booklets (at bottom).

"This course has been an amazing experience for us students in all the ways you might suspect," says Sarah Jordan '16. "These books will serve as a lasting example of the outstanding work our students do, and the school's commitment to [our] understanding the world around us and our place in it." 

Though the twelve "boxed sets" are limited editions (the students and Kimball will keep one each and gift the others to Amherst and Hampshire Colleges and the Village of Turners Falls), anyone interested in owning one or more of the booklets will be able to. "The printing company that we are working with has new technology that will allow others who want copies to have them printed on demand," Jordan explains. 

Find out more, and see the work on display, first at Amherst and then in Turners Falls:

  • Fayerweather Hall, Amherst College, Thursday, April 30, 4:30–6:30 p.m.
  • LOOT: found + made, 62 Avenue A in Turners Falls, Friday, May 1, 58 p.m.

This project was made possible by generous support from Amherst College's Office of the Dean of the Faculty, Department of Art & the History of Art and Center for Community Engagement, as well as LOOT: found + made and the Village of Turners Falls, Mass.