Shā Towers


Shā Towers lives in Waco, Texas with his partner Ann, two sons, and two Great Danes. He is a book artist and calligrapher whose works appear in private and university special collections across the United States and have been featured in international juried exhibitions. Shā has served as juror for several national and international artist book exhibitions. He is the founder and curator of the book arts collection at the Baylor University Libraries where he also serves as arts librarian and Associate Dean for Research and Engagement.

While my formal arts training is as a musician, the visual arts have been a compelling interest since childhood. Early exploration in lettering arts took a back seat to a consuming study of music for a number of decades. I returned to that love as an adult and where I have been influenced by a number of lettering arts mentors. In the course of my professional work as an academic librarian in the arts, I first encountered artists' books in 2007, and immediately fell in love with this art form. I immediately began collecting artist's books for my institution. The Baylor Book Arts Collection currently includes over 2100 works from artists all over the globe. In 2015, while working with art professor Virginia Green and embedded in a book arts seminar she was teaching, she encouraged my exploration of book arts through the lens of an artist in addition to the lens as a librarian collector and curator. My first artist's book, a small edition letterpress printed work, was created in Virginia's amazing BlackHare Studio and I credit her with the inspiration to become a practicing book artist.


I believe we are all called to create, and in doing so, we reflect the divine. Whether it's through art, compassion, music, love, ideas, poetry, hospitality, or even things like well-crafted spreadsheets, emails, or conversation - this is how each of us can take part in our creative lineage. Much of my work today focuses on mark making influenced by lettering arts in unique and variable edition works.

ARTWORK (selective list of early and recent artist's books)

KnownUnknown (2015)
Image transfers, letterpress printed cards, acrylic monoprinted vellum container structure, 6 x 3 inches.

Limited edition artist's book exploring the fragmented realities wherein the people around us can be, at the same time, both known and unknown. Pairing glimpses of the grandfather I never knew and glimpses of people known through social media, the work illuminates the dichotomy of knowing intimate details of someone while at the same time knowing little or nothing of substance about them. While the work has clear family history connections for me personally, my hope is that in paralleling the personal with the ubiquity of social media, more universal themes will surface reflection on identity, belonging, and the constant juxtaposition of the known and the unknown. Held by the special collections of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis; University of California, San Diego; University of Connecticut; University of Puget Sound; University of Washington Libraries; University of Louisville; Baylor University; and private collections.

We Are Writing These Things (2018)
Sumi and walnut inks, watercolor, watercolor paper and Thai Momi marbled paper, 6.25 x 4.25 x 0.5 inches closed.

Unique calligraphic artist’s book reflecting on a line from a speech given by Kevin Slavin at a 2011 TEDGlobal talk. In this artistic interpretation of Slavin’s thought provoking quote, I’ve dissected and reassembled fragments of the text, blending them with other mark making that explores ideas of language, communication, illegibility, and fragmentation and the dislocation, disconnection, and dissonance that remains in the wake.

Abecedarium Animalium: A Bestiary of What the Animals Taught Me (2021)
Various papers, board, inks, found materials, 7.125 x 5.25 x 1 inches closed.

Unique artist's book incorporating dictionary definitions and illustrations of animals that sparked my own reflections on memories and experiences associated with each animal. Layered underneath each dictionary fragment is a journal style reflection inspired by that animal, and a distillation of meaning derived from the experience. The work is a flag book structure with layered flags incorporating hand lettering and dictionary clippings.

Seeds of Joy (2021)
Paper, board, walnut ink, watercolor.

Unique artist's book incorporating a flag book structure of hand-treated paper using walnut ink and watercolor. The hand-calligraphed text is a paraphrase of the nine Buddhist prayers outlined by Thich Nhat Hanh in his introduction to Thomas Merton’s book Contemplative Prayer. Much like meditative prayer and artist's books in general, this work affords an intimate experience on a variety of levels. This work is part of the University of Puget Sound Collins Library Special Collections.

Time is not a river (2021)
Acrylic mono printed Mohawk Superfine paper, sumi ink, mulberry paper wrapper with mono printed band. 6 x 2 inches(closed), 6 x 16 inches (opened).

Variable edition artist's book by inspired by Mary Havran's poem of the same name. These works were created as we closed the door on 2020 and opened the door of 2021, during a time marked by dark days, both literally and figuratively. For many of us, this transition found us moving between moments of pain, suffering, and loss mixed occasionally -- and sometimes fleetingly -- with hope and promise. In this fluctuating state, the poem reminds us that time is elusive and is not ours to hold or master, but also calls us to cherish those brief moments in which we pause and reflect and give our full attention.

Interior Worlds (2021)
Various papers, board, leather, walnut ink and alcohol ink, 7 x 9 x .5 inches closed.

A visual and poetic exploration on a text by the artist reflecting the invisible worlds that hide just below the surface, out of sight in our hurried, harried, lives, but that richly rewards those who pause and listen and look. The structure of Interior Worlds incorporates Hedi Kyle's fishbone fold design and reinforces the idea of hidden worlds of beauty that are only experienced with the reader's time and attention and is reminiscent of geode rock formations that hide dazzling beauty beneath an unremarkable exterior.

How small a thought (2023)
Various papers and inks, 5 x 4 inches closed.

Unique calligraphic accordion artist's book featuring a reflection on a text from Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. The quote originated in 1946 and appeared in English in the translation by Georg Henrik von Wright in the book Culture and Value. I first encountered this text in the composition Proverb by minimalist composer Steve Reich and have been haunted by it for years. The repetitive, trancelike composition inspired the similar act of repeatedly writing the text as an act of meditation and reflection. The artist book incorporates handmade papers lettered in various inks with pointed and folded metal pens. and is enclosed in a paper wrapper.

Pueblo Reflections (2023)
Various papers and inks, natural and human-made found objects, 6 x 9 x 4 inches (larger outer box).

Unique artist's book reflecting on pilgrimages to the American Southwest - journeys into a world of mystery, otherness, and sacredness. This work is a sculptural and textual offering that includes a three-dimensional paper sculpture, found objects (both natural and made), poetry fragments by Puebloan poets, and handwritten reflections on the experiences of the region.

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