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Arts in Milwaukee

A Public Service Of Milwaukee Artist Resource Network

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Max Yela

  • Art
  • Literature
I am an Art Professional I am a Literary Professional

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artist bio

Max Yela has been Head of the Special Collections Department at the UWM Libraries since 1994. Prior to this, he was the public services librarian for Special Collections at the University of Delaware, 1985-1994. His main research interests are in media theory and the effects of media on human cognition. His research includes art mediation, narrative structures, and especially the book as an art medium. As an Adjunct Associate Lecturer for the UWM Department of Art & Design he teaches "Book Arts Concepts," "Book Arts Survey," "Independent Reading and Research," and lectures on book-arts concepts and theory throughout the curriculum. In addition, he also curates several exhibitions a year and serves as the official library liaison to Art & Design. He is also an Adjunct Instructor in the UWM School of Information Studies where he teaches "History of Books and Printing."

Yela is the author of numerous exhibition catalogs, including Contemporary Artists' Prints in Books (1994), The Shape and Color of Research (2002), 5th International Book & Paper Arts Triennial (2008), Caren Heft: The Arcadian Press, Giving Voice (2010), and Position/Opposition: The Book as Relationship (2011). He is also the author of the artist's book La Bendición, designed and printed by Caren Heft at the Arcadian Press in 2009.

artist statement

My career as an information professional has led me to very specific ideas about the nature of information and the power of media objects as frames and containers of information. All media fall within the scope my studies, but as a theorist, critic, and educator I am particularly interested in the medium of the artists book. I am a curator, researcher, and instructor of the book arts. While I am not an artist myself, the act of making forms an integral part of my practice in understanding the book as both object and art. I make many books, and sometimes even successful art.

I use media and information theories to understand and articulate the book as an art medium. I am especially fascinated by how our culture conceptualizes the idea of “book” and how artists make use of these ideas as tools of expression. Much of my work explores depths of knowing through the mediation of experience. As humans, we tend to understand our physical world, and our relationship to it and to ourselves, almost exclusively through the media we engage in. Media frame our paradigms, our worldview, and even our self-conceptions. This is especially true for the book as media object, which has a very powerful presence in culture and society. Such a presence has corresponding epistemological consequences, and I am particularly interested in how artists make use of such consequences, either intuitively or consciously.

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