After four decades as a designer of scholarly books, Barbara Williams Ellertson is now an independent researcher in the history of printing as portrayed in Renaissance art. This current work is a return to early interests: she earned a B.A. from Duke University with majors in history and religion. BW&A Books, the studio she founded in 1988 provides services to a wide range of university press clients, as well to art museums, regional historical organizations, and professional organizations. Two design projects for Cornell University Press on manuscript studies helped inspire Barbara’s interest in the Basira project: Introduction to Manuscript Studies by Raymond Clemens and Timothy Graham, Cornell, 2007; and Opening Up Middle English Manuscripts: Literary and Visual Approaches, by Kathryn Kerby-Fulton, et al., Cornell, 2012.
A trip to Florence on a press check provided the initial insight that led to this study of artists’ portrayals of books. Barbara’s experience with several generations of technical change within contemporary book publishing provides interesting perspectives on some of the cultural transformations wrought by the printing press in Western culture. A brief reflection on her career in book design is archived on the blog site Yale Art Books (March 2015).
Early years were spent in Oklahoma and Louisiana, but Barbara now claims North Carolina as home. That home is filled with too many books, and shared with expert typographer Charles Ellertson.
Graduating in 1982 from Case Western Reserve University with a M.A. in Renaissance Art History, Janet Seiz’s object-oriented approach to art history was formed by the program’s close cooperation with the Cleveland Museum of Art. Experiences from a series of collections-based seminars with objects from the CMA’s collections positioned the centrality of the object in Seiz’s early work, and it remains so decades later.
Seiz taught undergraduate art history on the faculties of Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois and St. Ambrose University in Davenport Iowa, for twenty years, while also furthering graduate studies at the University of Iowa. As slide libraries became reorganized digitally, Seiz took a great interest in the new technologies of the field. In addition to a twenty-five year teaching career, Seiz has researched and published articles on Venetian ceiling painting, (‘Un soffitto attribuito a Gaspare Diziani e ai Valeriani: da Ca’ Dandolo al Butterworth Center di Moline’, by Janet Seiz & George Knox, Arte veneta 61, 2005, 228-232 and Leonardo Da Vinci’s Workshop.
A founding member of BASIRA, Seiz remains an advisor while on leave from the Project.