“Bukvar/ Essay of a protest.” Laser print from author’s first elementary school book (1978, DDR, URSS), historical images printed in laser on mylar plate.

Library as Incubator Project (LAIP): Tell us a little bit about yourself and your work.

Ioulia Akhmadeeva (IA): I was born in 1971 in Krasnodar, Russia. Now I live and work in Mexico as a visual artist, working in printmaking and artist’s books. My artistic production consists in 95 group exhibitions and 10 single shows. At the moment I’m a full time professor in the Faculty of Fine Arts, Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo (Michoacan State University San Nicolás de Hidalgo, Morelia, Michoacán, México). I have a MFA in Graphic Arts (with honors) in 1996 from the Russian State Academy of Fine Arts, Surikov’s Institute, Moscow, Russia. Russian academic printings graphic school gave me a lot of preparation on having enough freedom to carry out diverse editable projects like artist’s book, using many combinations of techniques (like etching, lithograph, electrotransfer). I was trained in Mexico for bookbinding. I feel fortunate to produce, investigate, and teach artist’s books in the university.

“My Tortillas for Valentina.” The book is dedicated to my Russian mother Valentina, who died in Mexico in 2001. It presents the five stages of her life in the form of 5 “tortillas”– ­ pages that include her and her family’s portraits, plus engravings printed on handmade paper of jonote fiber.

My work is my life and my memories are my work. In my work, I use pieces of my family’s collection, each one with a story, a smell and a touch, and I create another life for them. For me, an artist’s book is the container which preserves a time and a memory. My purpose is to capture these moments, senses, and memories.

LAIP: What are you working on right now that you’re excited about?

IA: Now I’m working on a personal project about my mom’s dress, in which I’m using my three daughters. I would like to show this project at Artist’s Book Fire CODEX 2017 in Berkeley, CA USA in this February.

Another project I’m working on includes my students and consists in a portfolio of lino prints in the style of popular engraving. Normally I try to develop several projects at the same time. We’ve just concluded an exhibition in Russia at a very important museum with the prints and artist’s books of our Mexican university.  

Cover and binding of “Bukvar/ Essay of a protest.”

LAIP: How do you see your work interacting with narrative or story?  What does working in books allow you to do that you can’t pull off with other media?

IA: My books are created with a story in mind. It might be a personal story, a family story, or a story from my country of origin. They might have texts or be only a visual narrative– it depends on the project or idea. The genre of the artist’s books allows me to involve personal objects, elements of design, and to include instructions for the public so they can understand.  My artist’s books register time and present space. It’s a whole.

“16 years / 1998­-2014”, artist’s book object. 8 found and recycled objects with 16 pages: prints on handmade fiber paper, the digital print brochure catalog with dates and names, the box container was produced by ALTERnativa Gráfica. Texts and translation by Ioulia Akhmadeeva. Morelia, Michoacán, México.

LAIP: How have libraries informed your creative work? Tell us about the first library you remember playing a part in your artistic development.

IA: When I studied art in college, I always consulted art books in the college library. Later, at the Russian Academy, learning how to use the college’s library was very important for investigation projects, both physically and virtually. Artist’s book exhibits are more often displayed at libraries, as well. In the USA, artist’s books have their place at the special collections of college libraries, but in Mexico libraries are barely beginning to pay attention to the subject. My books are in libraries in the USA and in Russia.

“Book of Buttons” | Text handwritten and embroidered in English and Spanish by the author. Silk and linen, embroidered by author with beads and buttons of family’s collection.

“Book of Buttons”

LAIP: As an artist, what would your ideal library be like?  What kinds of stuff would you be able to check out, and what could you do there?

IA: One that has a reading room, an artist’s book consulting room with complete information about each book, a good catalog, a space for temporary book exhibitions (pop up, game books, antique books) with good curatory, conferences with artists and writers, roundtable activities, workshops and master classes for all ages, with a space for book club. And last but not least, a good book collection for the public.


Ioulia Akhmadeeva Was born in 1971, Krasnodar, Russia, and has lived and worked in Mexico since 1994.  She is a Full Professor, Faculty of Fine Arts, Michoacan State University San Nicolás de Hidalgo, Morelia, Michoacán, México, and works in printmaking art and artist’s books.  Visit her online at  http://www.ioulia-akhmadeeva.net/


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