Published on February 6th, 2023

A brand new book fair is hitting South Florida with a different twist on literary appreciation. On February 16-19 at Paradise Plaza in Miami’s Design District, Tropic Bound bills itself as “Miami’s first Artists’ Book Fair,” with organizers rounding up artists, publishers, curators, librarians, collectors and more to share their love for books as art.

Founded by Cristina Favretto, Sarah Michelle Rupert and Ingrid Schindall after receiving a Knight Arts Challenge Grant, Tropic Bound’s mission according to its website is “to elevate the understanding and value of hand-made artists’ books as an important contemporary art form where art and words meet.”

To that end, Tropic Bound’s first edition will host “a multi-lingual educational symposium that raises the discourse of artists’ books and fine art books in South Florida and the Americas with the input of historians, artists, and academics.” They also hope to make it a twice-yearly event.

Favretto is special collections director at the University of Miami. Rupert and Schindall are co-founders of South Florida’s annual Small Press Fair, a hands-on celebration of ink-and-paper art with printmaking demos and workshops, and a DIY spirit embodied by “The Steamroller,” in which an actual steamroller presses paper into inked blocks to create gigantic prints.

Think of Tropic Bound as Small Press Fair’s literary cousin. The four-day festival kicks off on Thursday, February 16 with local literary art shuttle tours, a welcome party and an afternoon keynote address by book artist and printmaker Tia Blassingame. Blassingame, known for her candid images and histories dealing with race and racism, will talk about how her work explores the intersection of race, history and perception.

Also on Thursday is a symposium entitled “Beyond Florida Man,” with a gaggle of local literary luminaries discussing the Miami book scene. Seven different presses from Florida will be represented, and close to sixty other printmakers from as far as London, Cairo, and Buenos Aires are also scheduled to make the trek to show off what art can be made from the bound and printed page.

Tropic Bound runs Thursday-Sunday, Feb. 16-19 at the Paradise Plaza Event Space in the Miami Design District. ~ David Rolland