A Building for Breathing

Processed with VSCOcam

Processed with VSCOcam

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 galabent@gmail.com

A Building for Breathing Cover.indd


On two legs

It is a curious and attractive thing to see something other than a straightforward human being perched on two legs. I immediately feel both familiar and alien toward the form– probably one of the reasons I love Nick Cave’s soundsuits so much. It’s also the reason that dance has inspired me as much as any other artform. (See past entries on performances by Ralph Lemon and Zoe|Juniper) There’s something about the embodiment of ideas that really entrances me. Being able to relate through the recognition of our always-shells, the body-houses where we all live, but also with the sense that our limits are perhaps not what they seem.

After designing a three-color poster for my brother, Josh, and having it screen printed, I started working with my own ideas in that medium, and came up with a series of two-legged amalgamations. The results can be seen (and purchased!) here.


“As part of an ongoing, and often playful, study of the ways that we relate to our home planet, the prints cast a marriage of human and inhuman elements, so that waves and lumber and clouds and brambles balance (or tumble) on two legs. They are inspired by dance, comics, Chinese painters and plenty of time spent outside trying to understand the elements that make up our world.”

found in istanbul

One of the world’s great cities that I’d love to visit someday is Istanbul. I have a former student who grew up there, and was recently visiting again. She wandered into an English and Turkish bookstore, Robinson Crusoe, and was browsing their art books. Flipping through “Contemporary Drawing,” she came across one of mine. I’m excited that at least some part of me has found its way to Turkey! I know that anything you put out here in olde cyber space has legs-international, but there’s something about being in print…

7 little drawings drummed

For the Drum of the Draw event, I prepared way too many surfaces to work on (4 hours goes soooo fast!).  In the time since then, I’ve continued to work on these 5″ x 7″ -ish sized sheets.  In the spirit of the evening, I’ll send one to you for $50 + $5 shipping if you’d like to call one your own.  Whaddya say?  Yeah?  Okay, just email me and we’ll work out the details {galabent(at)gmail(dot)com}.  You live in Seattle?  Well, just come pick it up!  Yeah!  See all seven (Weepin’ & Singin’ through Emergency) on flickr.