Is it a bird? It is a plane? No, it’s “Flying Object.”
The Flying Object Center for Independent Publishing, Art, and the Book, a collective of around 10 artists near Amherst, Mass., is the source of a recent acquisition by Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. The sale included small printed artworks — pull-out books and note cards adorned with assorted words and images — and pocket-size, handmade manuscripts of contemporary poetry.
The poetry was written by members of the collective and laid out in atypical patterns to complement the meaning of each work.
“The collective is a gathering space for artists and writers,” said Guy Pettit, the director of Flying Object. “We have a gallery, letterpress and studio, and these elements interact in our production of art.”
Though the work produced at Flying Object is modern, it still has collection value for a library like the Beinecke, library officials said.
Sarah Fisher, head of printed acquisitions for the Beinecke, said the library is constantly on the lookout for materials that might become rare in the future.
“Rare book libraries like the Beinecke take a very proactive approach towards buying because we recognize that what was once commonplace is now rare,” Fisher said.
Flying Object’s publishing philosophy makes it likely that their work will be hard to find some day, Pettit said. The group intends its pieces to be seen as collectibles, and as pieces of art rather than books that can be purchased anywhere, he said, adding that they restrict the number of copies they create of any given work.
The materials are handmade, so many of Flying Object’s works are expensive, he said, and libraries are a good market. Nancy Kuhl, the curator of the collection of American literature at the Beinecke, declined to comment on the price of the acquisition due to the library’s non-disclosure policy on purchases.
Kuhl added that the Flying Object pieces will be relevant to the study of American literature and printing.
“The Beinecke Library has a commitment to collecting materials produced by small presses and community literary projects,” she said. “We’ve been building collections in this area for decades.”
The Flying Object Center for Independent Publishing, Art, and the Book opened in October of last year.