Haas Family Arts Library acquires award-winning photography books

  • Inside book pages showing marbled papers inside front and back covers. Photo on left page shows woman in black Turkish dress with green socks and blue shoes stepping up a ladder in a garden with greenery around her feet; photo at right shows face of young girl looking at camera with three yellow flowers in the foreground in front of her mouth.
    "Hafiz" by Sabiha Çimen
January 21, 2023

Among the treasures that librarians at Haas Family Arts Library discovered at the recent New York Art Book Fair was the winner of the coveted First PhotoBook Paris Photo-Aperture award: “Hafiz: Guardians of the Qur’an.” Sabiha Çimen spent three years photographing girls in Qur’an schools in five cities in her native Turkey. She and her twin sister had attended a Qur’an school as teenagers, and Çimen returned to the subject years later as a photographer. Turkey has thousands of Qur’an schools where girls ages eight to nineteen study for as many as four years to memorize all 604 pages of the Holy Qur’an. The word “Hafiz” in the book’s title is a term of respect for a person who has learned the Qur’an by heart.

On Tuesday, Jan. 24, at the Haas Family Arts Library’s next lunchtime session in its series Artist Book Hour, Director Heather Gendron will discuss this award-winning title, now part of the library’s collection. She will also present the several other titles acquired at this year’s multi-day New York Art Book Fair. This year, Hendron acquired all the photography books that were shortlisted for the prestigious Aperture prize—including “Scaffolding: Grids of space and time are everywhere even if we cannot see them on the surface” by Tricia Treacy, a risographic-printed volume that needs to be viewed with a special blue light.

Haas Family Arts Library has thousands of artist books in its international collection, representing artists and perspectives from South Africa, Ukraine, and the United States (including one artist/publisher from New Haven). As Gendron explains, the term “artist book” can be hard to define—simply put, it is an art object inspired by the form and/or function of a conventional book. Visitors can view the library’s artist books, including those newly acquired, in the special collections reading room. The Haas Family Arts Library will host two more Artist Book Hour drop-in sessions this spring, each with a unique topic.

—Deborah Cannarella

Image: Interior spread of “Hafiz: Guardians of the Qur’an” (Brooklyn, NY: Red Hook Editions, 2021). Copyright  Sabiha Çimen/Magnum Photos.