Announcing Our 2020 McKnight Book Artist Fellows

Paula McCartney (photo by Lex Thompson) and Lisa Nebenzahl (photo by Hanna Voxland)

Minnesota Center for Book Arts is delighted to announce the 2020 McKnight Book Artist Fellows, Paula McCartney and Lisa Nebenzahl! These inaugural fellows mark the beginning of our partnership with the McKnight Foundation’s Artist Fellowship program.

McCartney and Nebenzahl have each been awarded a year-long fellowship, which runs from August 2020 to July 2021. The award includes $25,000 in unrestricted funds, studio access through MCBA’s Artist Collective, and opportunities to professionally engage with nationally renowned book artists, among other benefits. The artists will share their work at a public artist talk during their fellowship year.

We want to thank our three distinguished jurors—Tia Blassingame (Scripps College), Clifton Meador (Appalachian State University), and Marcia Reed (Getty Research Institute)—for reviewing applications, conducting virtual studio tours with the finalists, and ultimately selecting McCartney and Nebenzahl from an impressive pool of mid-career book artists living and working in Minnesota. Mid-career is a stage defined as “beyond emerging,” meaning artists not only exhibit exceptional merit, but have created a substantial body of work over a sustained period of time.

Juror Marcia Reed notes that both McCartney and Nebenzahl have “affinities to nature and geometry,” likening Nebenzahl’s photographic sculptures to crystals. She describes McCartney’s books as “invitingly designed… mov[ing] back and forth from recording nature, then witnessing, or even occasionally creating the man-made interactions.” The bonus, she adds, is her humor.

In the short video below, you can meet the 2020 fellows and view their winning portfolios. Beneath that, you can also find biographical information about our jurors and fellows.

Congratulations to our inaugural fellows!

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Music by Scott Holmes


Paula McCartney makes artist’s books, photographs, and ceramics that illustrate her collaborations with the natural world and consider ways that light activates both objects and environments. McCartney holds an MFA in Photography from the San Francisco Art Institute and has received grants from the Women’s Studio Workshop, the Aaron Siskind Foundation, the McKnight Foundation and the Minnesota State Arts Board. Her books are included in the collections of the Walker Art Center, Museum of Modern Art, Beinecke Rare Book Library at Yale University, New York Public Library, UCLA Arts Library, Joan Flasch Artist Book Collection at SAIC among many others. She has two published monographs Bird Watching (2010) and A Field Guide to Snow and Ice (2014).

Lisa Nebenzahl creates work that ponders themes of resilience and fragility, loss and persistence and the passage of time. She explores these ideas using shadow and light, working with the natural world of plants, water and sky. Her interest in this imagery affirms the beauty of change and is a reminder of the temporal condition, embracing the interplay of chance and surprise that comes from observing and responding to the natural world. Nebenzahl’s multidisciplinary practice includes sculpture, installation, historical printing processes and collage/montage. Her work has been exhibited nationally and in Oaxaca, Mexico. Nebenzahl is a three-time recipient of the Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative grant and the 2020 McKnight Fellowship for Book Arts. Lisa holds a BFA from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.


A book artist and printmaker exploring the intersection of race, history, and perception, Tia Blassingame often incorporates archival research and her own poetry in her artist’s book projects for nuanced discussions of racism in the United States. Her artist’s books are held in library and museum collections including Library of Congress, Stanford University, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, and State Library of Queensland. Blassingame is an Assistant Professor of Art at Scripps College and serves as the Director of Scripps College Press.

Clifton Meador prints and makes books. His books are held in many collections, including the Library of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and the Yale Art of the Book collection. His work has been supported by grants from the Rubin Foundation, the NEA, the Soros Foundation for Open Society, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. He was twice awarded a NYFA fellowship and was a Fulbright Scholar to the Republic of Georgia. He currently is a professor in the Department of Art at Appalachian State University.

Presently Chief Curator and Associate Director for Special Collections at the Getty Research Institute, Marcia Reed has developed the GRI’s library and special collections since its founding in 1983; she acquired many of its notable rare books, prints, and archives. Her curatorial research and publications focus on works on paper, especially the literature of art history and the history of collecting. Among the many exhibitions she has curated featuring the Getty Research Institute’s collections are Naples and Vesuvius on the Grand Tour (2001–2); Picturing the Natural World (2003);  China on Paper: European and Chinese Works from the Sixteenth to the Early Nineteenth Centuries (2007–8); The Magnificent Piranesi (Getty Villa, 2007–8); The Edible Monument: The Art of Food for Festivals (2015–6); and Cave Temples of Dunhuang: Buddhist Art on the Silk Road (2016). Her award-winning catalogue of the GRI’s artists’ book collection Artists and Their Books, Books and Their Artists, co-authored with Glenn Phillips, was published in Summer 2018 with an accompanying exhibition at the GRI.


The McKnight Foundation, a Minnesota-based family foundation, advances a more just, creative, and abundant future where people and planet thrive. Established in 1953, the McKnight Foundation is deeply committed to advancing climate solutions in the Midwest; building an equitable and inclusive Minnesota; and supporting the arts in Minnesota, neuroscience, and international crop research. The Foundation has approximately $2.3 billion in assets and grants about $90 million a year.


Founded on the belief that Minnesota thrives when its artists thrive, the McKnight Foundation’s arts program is one of the oldest and largest of its kind in the country. Support for individual working Minnesota artists has been a cornerstone of the program since it began in 1981. The McKnight Artist Fellowships Program provides annual, unrestricted cash awards to outstanding mid-career Minnesota artists in 14 different creative disciplines. Program partner organizations administer the fellowships and structure them to respond to the unique challenges of different disciplines. Currently the foundation contributes about $1.7 million per year to its statewide fellowships. Click below for more information.