Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Modest (in Scale) Exhibition Invitation

Just Got the News... 5 of my pieces have been accepted to the Modest (in Scale) exhibition at the Abecedarian Gallery in Denver, Co. This is an invitational show of prints and books that runs from 
September 19 through November 8, 2008... 

To check out the gallery look at

(Above is the Skaters~ 4.5" x 4.5" black core child's board book, cut to shape. 1 of 1. )

Feb. 19th 
~2 color(orange & blue) Firecracker orange cover in a French Fold, Letterpress printed in cadet blue with polymer plates and lead type, blind embossing, hand cut holes. Edition of 25.  This French fold pamphlet maps a year from my father's death. 
This records a year of circle walking.

~ 5"x 7" 3 color woodcut on Fawn Arches

Bound Yoke 
~ 5.25" x 4"- Letterpress printed in mustard, brown and sage green with polymer plates on Cream Kitakata paper. Edition of 25. 
As a child I found it difficult to read and felt yoked into the letters of the Alphabet. 

The Bhagavad-Gita - 2nd Teaching, 16 & 17 
~ 3.5" x 4"- 2 Accordion books reflecting two sides of the same text. 
4 color digital images on cream paper. 1 of 1.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Makin Movies

Folks have expressed to me that I should try to make these into moving images... well I gave it a go... I am thinking a series of books with voice overs reading the text...or not. Sorry it is so small I will upload a better version when I have a better connection..

Cyan... maybe you could give me some tips...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Presentation Of Thesis Work

After a year of investigation this was my final presentation:

Animali Fantastici:
The Direct Experience of Being Alive

I define "direct experience" as immediate sense perception. We are often told our direct experiences are wrong, leaving us to distrust our inner gauges.

At the beginning of my thesis year, I researched learning disabilities and requested my own test scores from 2003. The person who tested me was perplexed because she couldn't fit me into one of the diagnostic categories. She showed me text-covered flashcards, and I told her I saw a huge purple triangle and smelled the scent of cherry blossoms. She gave me a very baffled look and recommended I see a shrink. She did determine I was dyslexic, but not enough to qualify for a formal diagnosis.

I felt like I was left with a stigma.

Later, I came across Synesthesia and Dr. Richard E. Cytowic. He defines Synesthesia as "a joined sensation where two or more senses are coupled." For example: voice is not only heard, but also felt , seen, or tasted. Within my research, synesthesia is compared to LSD hallucinations, photographic memory or sensory deprivation.

Dr. Cytowic describes a woman who has joined sensations much like my own. He recalls that "whenever this woman read a book or watched television, she saw 'four or five men moving about, some in business suits, one in a cowboy's shirt, one in a plaid shirt.' They would abruptly disappear when she stopped these activities, only to return whenever she resumed. "Finally, I found scientific information to support my experience with the printed page.

Through handed down stories, there is a history in my family of joined senses. A story validates the importance of direct experience, not just to the one whose immediate experience it is, but also to others.

The loss of my grandfather as a child, my father a few years before my thesis and then my youngest brother this past summer made this trait come full circle. It became the focus of my daily thoughts. 

My first conscious recollection of a joined sensation event was when I was eight.  My grandfather and I thought his stories had just died.

I found one of his sketchbooks and flipped through it. At one point I began to hear his voice, and was enveloped in a wave of joined senses and characters coming alive. For me looking through the pages in a book triggers the five senses and ultimately characters. My own "joined sensations" are like premonitions, dreams or memory mixed within emotional reactions to daily events, without being exactly like any of that. I think of it as symbols to my own emotions.

In high school I had a reader's facade; I carried around a handful of non-assigned books and spent time with librarians. This convinced people I was "reading."

Presuming I could read, educators and counselors told me I was lazy. I began to skip school and get kicked out of class. Through all my protests and rants, I was labeled an upstart, daydreamer, wiseass and a lollygagger.

I am from a long line of upstarts, daydreamers, wiseasses and lollygaggers. You could say it is almost encouraged. My families' stories validated my own direct experience. Their support kept me centered and balanced during my tour of duty in public school.

Books are often compared to the body.

Before my thesis, I thought by using Reason and the language of Science I could take the role of a medical examiner and dissect the body/book to answer my questions about my interaction with the book. I plan to pursue a master's degree in book conservation. I often imagine myself in a 18th century lab where books are laid out like little cadavers. I'm dressed in a lab coat with a huge magnifier strapped to my head. Strange colored liquids with bubbling noises, tubes and Bunsen burner fill the room. While wall-mounted taxidermy glass eyes watch as I spend my hours happily and carefully repairing injured books.

When faced with the reality of cutting books apart, I felt huge panic; I would be like Linus trying to cut up his security blanket. These books and the stories were replacements for people who could no longer be around, so to pull apart the book would be like pulling apart my family. Would I see and hear their cries? Good Grief! What have I done?! I thought especially with the recent loss of my father John.

I was relying on flipping through the books to help me deal with my current loss. To find another solution for thesis and as child of a biker, I decided to look for adventure by applying for a summer program in Italy. There are a lot of amazing things in Italy with plenty of distraction: wine, music and vitality. And one library like no other, the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana.

My knees almost buckled as I stepped into the exhibition space. The current show was called "Animali Fantastici." I moved from book to book and marveled at the astonishing range of zoomorphic figures depicted in them. Looking at those old books, opened huge avenues for my thesis without tearing books apart.

Less than a week later, the unthinkable happened. My youngest brother, Jacob, only twenty-four, died from complications with juvenile diabetes. Returning to school I found daily comfort in my childhood habit of flipping through books. But it began to feel like I was putting salt in fresh wounds each day. I felt I needed to stop this addictive action, and tear the books apart to discover why I was using this to ease my anxiety.

As I cut apart a leather-bound book, one of the books from Florence called out to me. The book contained the writings of Horace, a 12th century Philosopher. It contains an illustration of a creature with a women's, the neck of a horse, the breast, talons and wings of a bird, and the tail of a fish. Written across the face, the letters read camena (muse or poetry). This creature is not found in mythology. Horace invented this as an example of the abnormal to condemn any form of artistic venture that goes beyond the bounds of reason.

To refresh my mind on Horace's image, I looked in the book I purchased at the Biblioteca exhibition. I landed on this quote, "these creatures arouse a sense of marvel where the boundaries between the real and the imaginary become blurred." These creatures are beyond reason; they embody the book and printed page as I directly experience it. Flipping through books pushes me beyond reason and eases my own inner struggle with loss. It became very clear this action with the book was my muse or meditation practice.

My liberation.

I began visually recreating the stories and characters I have been collecting for thirty years through drawing and collaging.  The characters are often based on collaborations of people I love and admire from the past and present but I do have a villain or two.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Animali Fantastici: 
The Direct Experience of Being Alive

These large images become invitations to see the book as I do. They embody my cross over beyond the mechanized routine of reading and reason by arousing a sense of wonder at the world. In the cross over is the blurred boundary between the real story of the book and the mind reading it. The boundary between the real and the imaginary. This boundary is not to replace the people who have been lost, but a hope to embrace the direct experience of being alive.

These images come together when scanned into a computer, then blown up and printed on a large-scale digital printer. Then I draw over them with different materials.

Between Times, Dawn and Dusk, age 38: The Fourth Image

The last piece, Between Times, Dawn and Dusk, age 38...32"x45"... centers around a jewel toned moth winged lady. A white fox slowly follows. The fox represents cunning, wildness and diplomacy. Because it's most often seen at the between times, dawn and dusk, it becomes a guide into the Faerie Realm. This is a poem given to me by my fourth thesis mate, Brianna. In her I've found the friend I missed so much in my grandfather, Jack.

Printed on William Turner Paper, Collage Mixed Media, Digital and Drawing Materials.

The Apples of Discord, age 25 : The Third Image

The third piece, The Apples of Discord, age 25.... Also about 4'x5'.... was revealed on a field trip with another of my mates, Cyan. She was looking for chairs to cut apart and reconstruct. While she looked, I flipped through a book of do-it-yourself projects. It almost felt like the floor shook when my most mischievous character appeared. She is a mixture of the gods Loki and Mercury with elements of my brother Jake. She is also a messenger carrying the golden apples of passion and destiny to the most beautiful. Not only is Cyan light hearted, silly, a little naughty and unafraid of her destiny, she holds the same passion I saw in my brother, Jacob.

Printed on William Turner Paper, Collage Mixed Media, Digital and Drawing Materials.

A Grateful Heart: The Second Image

The second piece, A Grateful Heart, age 15 also about 4'x5'... started with a note left by my thesis mate, Taylor, on a book of daily prayers I had disassembled. Her note said that the page on the top was her birthday and, as I glanced at it, my omnipotent father figure appeared. In one hand he carried a golden heart locket. Common gifts of friendship were once heart-shaped lockets with a photo of a loved one, or perhaps a lock of their hair. This piece is a combination of Taylor and my father, John; they remind me to meet each day with a truly thankful and grateful heart.

Printed on William Turner Paper, Collage Mixed Media, Digital and Drawing Materials.

Self Portrait: The First Image

Bess, age 8, is my first piece. This image is about 4'x5'. Bess is my oldest character. Beside her sits a teddy bear. In Native American stories the bear replaces the lion as the king of the beasts and is referred to as grandfather. A bear also symbolizes resurrection because it hibernates, and then wakes in the spring. It is my self portrait.

Printed on William Turner Paper, Collage Mixed Media, Digital and Drawing Materials.

The Proposed Thesis Statement

The thesis year was amazing in so many ways.  This is the proposed artist statement I settled on and worked from:

I am a dyslexic. As a kid my house was always filled with books, periodicals, newspapers and magazines. I would sit for hours flipping through the large stacks while making up my own narratives and characters from the images and the few words I could understand. I'd study their images, personality, and font style while making note on how they were made. they became my friends even though their pages held words I didn't understand and if I decoded their message, I would be a "reader", too.

Even today when I need comfort, I often run to the library and spend the day hiding away from whatever ails me. I'll pull huge stacks impossible to read by the due date, and victoriously set them by my bed. In most cases, I never "read" a page but just slowly flip through and by some strange osmosis the words filtered into my brain. This action seems to ease my own inner struggle with impermanence and loss. I am influenced by Tibetan scroll paintings which are used by adherents to create a place of meditation though the act of seeing.

It is my goal though this work to investigate and create illustrations how I see the interior pages of books. I hope to explore the contradiction between the black and white authority of the printed word in contrast to the effects of image and color layered over them. Some of the images are drawn from familiar iconography, toys, architectural details, mechanical illustrations and symbols, combined with stenciled scenes, decorative patterns and splatters of paint.