Halo (2012) 14.5×18″. Cut books mounted on wood.
This piece is an apt summation of my art work of the last couple of years– most of which is born out of deep attachment to and reverence for the book form (arguably the most ingenious, mobile, transferable, humanistic, and renewable technology ever devised).
When I started this piece I imagined a huge gilt portal large enough to walk through made from stacked books, like a miniature, modular, Modernist version of the Shwedagon Pagoda. It quickly became apparent that finding and collecting the necessary number of books to create a monumental edifice would take months, or years, and that our garage would be clogged with crates of literary cast-offs. Sadly, I have neither a huge, airy studio to store materials nor a team of hip and eager studio assistants to help me collect them. Even so, I can say that the experience of sawing through a wheelbarrow of books was both jarring and exhilarating (sort of). Thanks to B. for setting up his table saw with the appropriate jigs to create these book slices.
Of course, I can’t help but mention that the past year has presented a fairly constant stream of opinions, exhortations, and predictions on the demise of the book and the changing nature of libraries. The controversies at the NY Public Library have been well documented in the Nation, the NY Times and elsewhere. Public, school, and academic libraries and library staff are under enormous pressures that are born out of economic, procedural, philosophical, and social changes in the knowledge and information landscape. My own life as librarian has been dramatically shaped by the current state of affairs.
The New York Times Book Review had two essays on the topic of books just last week: Leah Price’s Dead Again and It’s Alive! by Gillian Silverman which does a beautiful job of describing the allegorical nature of the argument that we are books and books are us.
Halo is a more modest proposal and akin to a household alter (sans deity). It just simply shines.