Support Local Journalism, Join the SA Current Press Club.

Keri Miki-Lani Schroeder pushes books into conceptual territory with Coyote Bones Press 

click to enlarge Keri Miki-Lani Schroeder with an early 20th-century Poco letterpress proof press in her San Antonio studio. - KERI MIKI-LANI SCHROEDER
  • Keri Miki-Lani Schroeder
  • Keri Miki-Lani Schroeder with an early 20th-century Poco letterpress proof press in her San Antonio studio.
While exploring a Nevada ghost town in 2014, Las Vegas native Keri Miki-Lani Schroeder stumbled upon something ominous: a coyote skeleton decaying in a rusty barrel. That discovery struck a chord.

“You’d see coyotes all around Nevada and even in the city of Las Vegas,” Schroeder recalled. “I remember seeing them at the drive-in movie theater eating spilled popcorn and hotdogs off the ground.”



Beyond the haunting visual she encountered, the words it evoked circled in Schroeder’s head and inspired the name Coyote Bones Press, the niche imprint she founded the following year.

As a teen, Schroeder found creative inspiration in punk culture and made her own zines. However, she didn’t start taking fine art seriously until she transferred out of high school into a magnet program at the Las Vegas Academy for the Arts.

“It pretty much changed my life, because it was run more like college,” she said. “I think that’s where my interest in books started really.”

As an art history major at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Schroeder continued making zines and started branching out into what she now categorizes as “really bad” bookbinding.

“I couldn’t find anybody to teach me in Vegas,” she said.

That changed when she met book and paper conservator Michael Frazier and enrolled in one of his weekend workshops at UNLV.

“He really introduced me to book art,” Schroeder said, “and that was really exciting.”

One of the first established book artists Schroeder became aware of was Julie Chen, who founded Flying Fish Press in 1987 and teaches courses in the creative practice at Mills College in Oakland, California.

Upon graduating from UNLV, Schroeder started saving money for grad school, with Mills College being her first choice.

“There aren’t too many places with graduate level book art programs,” she said. “I liked [Mills] because it really emphasized the conceptual art component and not just the craft of it. And I wanted to study with Julie Chen.”

In the process of earning her master’s in book art and creative writing, Schroeder became Chen’s teaching assistant, then took a job doing production work at Flying Fish Press.

“[Chen] does limited-edition artists books with runs of 25 t0 100 [copies]. Because it’s such a small studio, we did them in batches. My job was to assemble things as orders came in — and that’s how I run my studio as well.”

After four years working alongside Chen in California, Schroeder set her sights on Texas, inspired in part by an opportunity to work with Craig Jensen, a master bookbinder and conservator who worked at the Library of Congress before founding the bygone Austin institution BookLab.

A San Antonio resident since the summer of 2018, Schroeder spent roughly two years working with Jensen at his San Marcos-based workshop BookLab II.

When she’s not creating original projects for her Coyote Bones Press, Schroeder teaches in-person classes and virtual workshops — at the Southwest School of Art, Austin Book Arts Center, the Minnesota Center for Book Arts and the Jaffe Center for Book Art in Boca Raton, Florida.

She also hosts Books in the Wild, a podcast that “investigates the often-overlooked stories of books.”

In her work, Schroeder frequently touches on environmental themes while pushing books into conceptual territory involving meticulously handmade boxes, found objects, unusual printing techniques and wry nods to games and magic tricks. Her creations have been featured in exhibitions across the U.S. and are held in numerous permanent collections — from Stanford University and the Rhode Island School of Design to the British Library in London, England.

We selected five of Schroeder’s intriguing contributions to the world of book art.

click to enlarge Reliquary, Coyote Bones Press 2015, letterpress printing, found objects, rolling box structure, edition of 25. - KERI MIKI-LANI SCHROEDER
  • Keri Miki-Lani Schroeder
  • Reliquary, Coyote Bones Press 2015, letterpress printing, found objects, rolling box structure, edition of 25.
Reliquary
Rendered in a “rolling box structure” of linked compartments, Schroeder’s 2015 book Reliquary poetically pairs detritus she collected in the Mojave Desert — shotgun casings, cigarette butts, rusty nails and bottle caps — with “text centered around loss, memory and decay.” Adding intrigue to the unfolding array of specimens are symbolic foil stamps that reference the hieroglyphs of the “hobo code.” One of the letterpress-printed passages asks, “How long before these pieces of you become just ancient artifacts, removed from context, relics of a forgotten life in a desert landscape?”

click to enlarge Unremarkable, Elusive: Dusky Seaside Sparrow, Coyote Bones Press 2021. Mixed media artist’s book about the extinct Floridian Dusky Seaside Sparrow, created as part of artist residency at Jaffe Center for Book Arts. Edition of 10. - KERI MIKI-LANI SCHROEDER
  • Keri Miki-Lani Schroeder
  • Unremarkable, Elusive: Dusky Seaside Sparrow, Coyote Bones Press 2021. Mixed media artist’s book about the extinct Floridian Dusky Seaside Sparrow, created as part of artist residency at Jaffe Center for Book Arts. Edition of 10.
Unremarkable. Elusive: Dusky Seaside Sparrow
Created during her 2019-2021 artist residency with the Jaffe Center for Book Art, Unremarkable. Elusive is a poignant ode to the dusky seaside sparrow, which became extinct in 1987 due to the loss of its marshy habitat on Florida’s east coast. Combining photographs, illustrations, a sculpted paper bird and two sound recordings, the mixed-media project conceptualizes a heartbreaking story involving the Kennedy Space Center, an aggressive mosquito control program and Walt Disney World’s now-defunct wildlife park Discovery Island, where the last dusky seaside sparrow perished in captivity.

click to enlarge Consume, Coyote Bones Press, 2021. Accordion book variation: handwritten text, inkjet and pochoir illustrations; original pen & ink illustration; duck wing in clamshell box. - KERI MIKI-LANI SCHROEDER
  • Keri Miki-Lani Schroeder
  • Consume, Coyote Bones Press, 2021. Accordion book variation: handwritten text, inkjet and pochoir illustrations; original pen & ink illustration; duck wing in clamshell box.
Consume
Closely tied to Unremarkable. Elusive, Schroeder’s 2020 project Consume employs an accordion book format and reverent pen-and-ink drawings to memorialize five birds hunted to extinction: the passenger pigeon, heath hen, Hawaiian O’o, great auk and Carolina parakeet. Thoughtfully, Schroeder placed each bird on a bed of flowers native to its habitat. Published as an edition of only five, Consume includes one of the original drawings Schroeder created for the book — and an actual duck wing tucked into a coffin-like compartment.

click to enlarge Magic Box of Mysteries, a magic wallet box containing optical paper toys including a flexagon, volvelle and thaumatrope. - KERI MIKI-LANI SCHROEDER
  • Keri Miki-Lani Schroeder
  • Magic Box of Mysteries, a magic wallet box containing optical paper toys including a flexagon, volvelle and thaumatrope.
Magic Box of Mysteries
Perhaps more of a teaching tool than an art book, this playful project illustrates Schroeder’s interest in nostalgic games and magic tricks. Housed in a “magic wallet” box — and viewable on the Coyote Bones Press YouTube channel — it reveals different optical paper toys depending on which way it’s opened: a “flexagon” playing card that turns a queen into a king through an elaborate series of folds; a magic eight ball “volvelle”; and a “thaumatrope” that gives the illusion of a caged bird when spun.

click to enlarge View of box for Book of Hours, collaborative artist’s book by Keri Miki-Lani Schroeder and Julie Chen, Coyote Bones Press & Flying Fish Press, 2021. Blow book structure; 4-flap box enclosure Letterpress, digital, Risograph printed; Edition of 88. - KERI MIKI-LANI SCHROEDER
  • Keri Miki-Lani Schroeder
  • View of box for Book of Hours, collaborative artist’s book by Keri Miki-Lani Schroeder and Julie Chen, Coyote Bones Press & Flying Fish Press, 2021. Blow book structure; 4-flap box enclosure Letterpress, digital, Risograph printed; Edition of 88.
Book of Hours
An ambitious collaboration between Schroeder and her mentor Julie Chen, Book of Hours is a fascinating exploration of time and space amid the new normal. Representing a year and a half of Zoom meetings, the book comprises 12 individual sequences that creatively address the pandemic era — from masked portraits to artfully layered COVID headlines to experiments that might only occur in lockdown. Housed in a handsome red box featuring a symbolic cone motif, Book of Hours follows the format of a “blow book,” better known as a “magic coloring book.” Dating back at least as far as the 16th century, the trick allows a magician to seemingly alter the book’s contents depending on how they flip through it. Traditionally, colored pages become uncolored after a member of the audience blows on the book. “We do have instructions on the colophon of the box,” Schroeder said. “But I’ve noticed that the people — especially artists — will say, ‘Don’t tell me!’ They want to figure it out themselves.”

For more information about Keri Miki-Lani Schroeder and Coyote Bones Press, visit coyotebonespress.com and follow @coyotebonespress on Instagram.

Stay on top of San Antonio news and views. Sign up for our Weekly Headlines Newsletter.

Support Local Journalism.
Join the San Antonio Current Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the San Antonio Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

Read the Digital Print Issue

November 17, 2021

View more issues

Newsletters

Join SA Current Newsletters

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Calendar

© 2021 San Antonio Current

Website powered by Foundation