Coffey Residency for Book Arts

Welcome to the website for the Coffey Residency for Book Arts at the University of Florida Libraries!

Initiated in 2015, The Coffey Residency provides an opportunity for a selected artist to access materials from the Special and Area Studies Collections (SASC) at University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries as the impetus for the creation of an editioned artists’ book. During the residency, the artist has the chance to interact with the collections, librarians, curators, faculty, and students across the university. Production of the project involves periodic consultation with the facilitator of the program, Ellen Knudson, Associate in Book Arts.

Over the years, the residency has transitioned from a six-week summer residency (2015 and 2016), to a semester-long Fall residency (2017, 2018, 2019) to the present updated form for 2021 — an eight-month (academic) year-long, residency that does not require the artist to reside in Gainesville.

The Coffey Residency has become nationally recognized in the book arts community and the artists’ books produced from the residency have been well and widely acclaimed.

Some of the collection placements of books created as part of the Coffey Residency are as follows: University of Iowa, U.S. Library of Congress, Bodelian Library (UK), Victoria and Albert Museum (UK), University of Washington, Ringling College of Art and Design, University of South Carolina, Miami University, Smithsonian Institute Library.

The Coffey Residency for Book Arts committee selects a resident each year. If you are interested in more information about the residency, contact Ellen Knudson, Special and Area Studies curator for the Book Arts Collection.


God’s Battle Axe
Sauda Mitchell, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
2023. Edition of 5.

God’s Battle Axe, pays homage to Zora Neale Hurston’s inspiration and creative process for her last unpublished manuscript ‘Herod the Great’. Through research of the Zora Neale Hurston Papers, (in particular, Hurston’s sketch book for ‘Herod’) at George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, and published works that reveal the influences of religion in her early life, this work is an ode to Zora Neale Hurston’s courage to deviate from her accepted canonical work.

God’s Battle Axe, detail of the box enclosure, covered in hand-ruched velvet and synthetic feathers.
God’s Battle Axe, detail of book inside the enclosure.

The enclosure for God’s Battle Axe seeks to capture the essence of Zora’s impeccable fashion as can be seen through examination of the Zora Neale Hurston Papers (MS 006) photographic collection. Through the use of materiality, the application of multiple mediums, and the conception of religious reliquaries, this work reimagines Zora’s vision for the environment, historic setting, and years of research resulting in her six volume manuscript for ‘Herod the Great’.

Detail from the interior “sketch book” of God’s Battle Axe by Sauda Mitchell

Through an embedded QR code, God’s Battle Axe, links to Zora’s 1955 handwritten and signed letter to Margrit Sabloniere in which she describes ‘ Life of Herod the Great’ as such.. “ I am trying something more difficult than ever before.” [Hurston,Z.N. Handwritten Letter], Zora Neale Hurston Papers, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida

Dimensions: 7” x 10” x 6” H

4.5 pounds

Wood, concrete, caulk, pigments (water color, pen and ink, acrylic), textile (velvet), faux ostrich feathers, artifacts (vintage brooch), glass (mosaic tiles), linoleum, printmaking ink, paper, black and white archival photo prints.

Sauda Mitchell is a community leader, certified archivist, educator, and multidisciplinary artist with over 20 years of engagement with the arts, libraries, and diverse communities. Through primary source research, Sauda’s work focuses on utilizing printmaking and QR code technology as a creative non-traditional access method, linking viewers to archival repositories, curated exhibitions, and aggregated data. Each work serves as a visual response to archival collection materials representative of the many stories that can be found deep within the archival landscape.

Sauda serves as the Director of the Painting Drawing and Printmaking Department at the Sawtooth School of Visual Art in Winston Salem N.C. where she develops high quality visual arts programming, curricula, workshops and events. Sauda is an adjunct instructor in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Buffalo, where she teaches students the methodology of how to teach with primary sources. Mitchell is currently a doctoral student at Drexel University in the Educational Leadership and Management Program. Her research centers around marginalized student access to archives based engagement in support of cultural competence and primary source critical analysis, as a catalyst for elevated cognitive development.

Select works are currently held in the permanent collections of the SCAD Museum of Art, Harvard University, Smithsonian Libraries, and The Library of Congress. You can view more of Sauda’s work at her website.

April 20, 2023: Public presentation for Sauda Mitchell’s artist’s book, God’s Battle Axe.

George A Smather’s Libraries, University of Florida, Scott Nygren Studio, Library West.


Sylvan Secrets
Denise Bookwalter, Tallahassee, Florida
2021. Edition of 20

Denise Bookwalter: Sylvan Secrets is a deep dive into the way the natural world is named and cataloged and what we can discover within the imposed order. Inspired by Encyclopaedia of American Woods by Romeyn Hough, the pages depict the microscopic innards of trees. Volume five, the volume from North Florida, was the main inspiration for the book. (see notation below).

The toroidal book structures are relief printed in gold with images inspired by microscopic photographs of the wood veneers, presenting a unique perspective of looking at these preserved species.

Sylvan Secrets on display in the exhibition Makers Gonna Make: Artists Books for Tumultuous Times. Also on display, the book Encyclopaedia of American Woods by Romeyn Hough. American Woods is the book that inspired the new publication by Bookwalter.

Encyclopaedia of American Woods
Romeyn Hough (1857–1924); Ellwood Scott Harrar; Fred M. White
New York: Publisher: R. Speller, 1957.

Encyclopaedia of American Woods is a catalog of wood veneers collected by Romeyn Hough over a period of nearly forty years. Produced in thirteen volumes generally divided by geographic locations, the species are represented by three different cross sections, scientific names, and common names. Each volume contains twenty-five different species.
QK480.N7 H681 1910 v.13

Denise Bookwalter is a printmaker, book artist, and educator living in Tallahassee, Florida. She is a Professor of Art at Florida State University and Founding Director of Small Craft Advisory Press, a collaborative book arts press at FSU. She has exhibited solo and collaborative work nationally and internationally and her books can be found in numerous collections. You can view more of Denise’s work at her website.

2021/2022: PAUL SHORTT

To Hold In Place
Paul Shortt
Gainesville, Florida
2022. Edition of 20.

To Hold In Place was created as part of the 2021–2022 Coffey Residency for Book Arts at the University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries. It was inspired by and incorporates instructional and moveable elements from children’s books in the University of Florida Special and Area Studies, Baldwin Library of Historical Children’s Literature. Paul Shortt’s artwork is initiated from street signage and directional placards that we all see in our daily lives. His work turns these ordinary, overlooked warnings and directions into brightly colored, even playful, signs and coloring books. To Hold in Place takes its cue from the small instructional texts of children’s books and creates a new form of poetic operation with pull tabs, lifts, and volvelles.

Risograph printed in two colors at Print St Pete, St. Petersberg, FL. Laser cut elements and spiral binding.

(Paul Shortt gives special thanks to Ellen Knudson, Katie Smith, and Ann Lindell for the opportunity and support, the UF library special collections staff, specifically Michele Wilbanks and Steve Hersh, and the former Baldwin curator Suzan Alteri.)

To Hold in Place on display in the exhibition Makers Gonna Make: Artists Books for Tumultuous Times. Also on display, the children’s book Rays of Sunshine, published by McLoughlin Bros (1893). Rays of Sunshine is one of the many books from the Baldwin Collection that inspired the new publication by Shortt.

Some of the books used as reference for To Hold in Place are as follows:

Moving Picture Series, Vol. 1: Live Animals
L. Meggendorfer

Rays of Sunshine
McLoughlin Bros. New York

Princess Rose Petal and Her Adventures: A Moveable Toybook
Lothar Meggendorfer

The Picture Motion Book
39h 3355

Nursery Tiles: The Boys and Girls Painting Book
D. Lothrop & Co., Boston

Little Merry-Makers
A.J. Daryll

Paul Shortt has been making zines and artist books and presenting these works through exhibitions and fairs nationally and internationally for the last 10 years. Paul’s books have been published using Risograph printing, letterpress, laser cutters and commercial printers usually in runs of 50-500. His work is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of Art, and Yale University. You can see more of Paul’s work at his website.


At the conclusion of the semester-long residency in 2019, Anne completed her new artist’s book Sea Change inspired by research in the Keys and Everglades of Florida, and from her study of the print holdings of the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps of Florida in the Map & Imagery Library at the University of Florida.

The system of mapping used in this edition was inspired by research and study of the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps of Florida , most notably Miami, vol. 1, 1921 containing a record of 28 paper corrections dating from 1928–1950. Originally created to allow fire insurance companies to assess risk and liability to urbanized areas within the United States, these maps were published in volumes that were bound and corrected by “pasters” who were employed to cut and glue over outdated maps until a new volume was produced. These maps often contained dozens of layers of paper corrections that physically marked an evolving landscape with permanent adhesion.

Sea Change has adapted this system of mapping as a form of catastrophe modeling for projecting sea level rise on the Florida peninsula if action is not taken to combat climate change. The map images were drawn from worst case scenario predictions from the NOAA Sea Level Rise Viewer ( Many other sources provided key data and analysis that aided in writing the text for this project and they are cited in the colophon of the finished book.

© 2019. Anne Covell for the Library Press @ UF.

Anne Covell is a book artist and hand papermaker living in San Diego, CA. She received her MFA in Book Arts from the University of Iowa Center for the Book where she was the recipient of an Iowa Arts Fellowship. She has studied Asian and Western papermaking techniques with Timothy Barrett, and has taught for numerous professional organizations including the Morgan Art of Papermaking Conservatory, Penland School of Crafts, and the University of Georgia study abroad program in Cortona, Italy, among others. Her work has been exhibited internationally and can be seen in over 40 special collections libraries and museums worldwide. Link to the artist’s website: Anne Covell