I spent a day one time learning the basics of manuscript illumination. The instructor was an immersive teacher, reading psalms to us and playing monastic chants as we worked. The day had a long, slow cadence that involved layering and waiting, eating together and discussing the symbolic aspects of, for instance, breathing warm air onto the adhesive before floating a thin skin of gold leaf over the surface. When I got into a car at the end of that time, I was overcome by the panic of speed. The movement seemed too great compared to the low slow pace I’d been keeping. The project “A Building for Breathing” with Serrah Russell has felt a little like this oasis of stillness and contemplation. Serrah invited me to contribute writing to an exhibit she was preparing at Gage Academy, and this evolved into a book project.
The process began with our discovery that we’d both been reading Gaston Bachelard’s “Poetics of Space,” and we began discussing the ways that his book had been influencing us. We shared thoughts about the domestic space as a psychological and oneiric stage, about the ways that buildings (especially houses) both echo and double our own bodies and about the idiosyncratic approach Bachelard felt free to use in this text. Serrah’s work was a wonderful jumping-off point for me, since it is evocative and visually sophisticated, but open ended. I find, in her work, the hush between sounds. The awareness of an edge before you arrive at an object fully formed and named.
The books we had published are embellished with handmade collages and drawings on vellum, so each is unique. This was another interesting level of collaboration, since I did not want to distract from the visual subtlety of Serrah’s work. Above, you can see one example of my pared-down approach. The exhibition (which is viewable at Gage Academy until November 15th) includes additional text written on the walls and Serrah’s work displayed on vellum. More to come on a closing reception and documentation of the exhibition!
If you are interested in purchasing one of the edition of 10 ($100 plus shipping), write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org