Back to The Things I Used to Do – The Artist Book/Box

An Artist Book Box

Sixteen years ago after finishing graduate school I made this box with a book on what it was like being an artist. This is the text found with images of work I had done. Work that took all my concentration and quite a bit of my time.

The ideas for my art come from an enormous need to fix feelings into a visual form.

It is never clear from the outset what that form will be.

The feelings that provoke the work usually have to do with human connections and interactions.

Sometime it is release enough to simply express myself in a journal entry.

But here I can only pour out thought for myself.

And unread or unsaid, it remains somehow unrealized.

I might as well have just kept it inside.

But to take the feeling through the studio and…..

select together what it will take to give it form,

I discover myself all over again…

on a journey through the familiar…

toward the unknown.

It is here that I can engage all my senses..

into the creation of some thing that takes form…

for all those feelings..

and lets me look hard at what it is that seems…..

so incredibly important.

And then later..

gives me the chance…

to  see if it connects…

through the familiar…

of someone else.

An Artist Book Box open

The box has an area near the spine that is filled with small bits and pieces that I found inspiring and necessary to include as objects with the book. There are mica windows that are a bit rose-colored over the object and title of the book printed on cloth. (Cloth was important to so much of my work then).

Under the book is a hidden compartment of letters from others about how my art affected them and what they saw in it at the time.

An Artist Book Box hidden compartment

And the inside title page of a book bound with skewers and made of papers that were stained with the wood chips from the scraps left by the men in work shops of my area. The men who inspired so much of my work back then and continue to make me smile at our memories.

An Artist Book title page

What I wanted to do with this book that was made as a gift to my children when I am no longer here, was an attempt to explain the preoccupation I had with my art, the time spent with the making of it, and the time neglected in other areas of my life. It seemed important that I do this, try to explain myself in some way.

The images throughout the pages are of my artworks photographed and altered to fit the look of something not quite clear but very present. Then several of them were sketched over with pen and ink to emphasize the layers and complexities of my mind and hands and feelings about what I was trying to say with each piece. Looking at these pages now, sixteen years later, I find them fascinating and more evocative now than then. I really love this book/box. But what I love most is that I did it in the first place, that these things mattered so much to me that they be housed some way in a shrine of sorts. Here are some more of the pages. I think later today I will just sit with this book and feel the pages along with the memories of what inspired each image.

An Artist Book mid page

An Artist Book mid page 2

An Artist Book back page

An Artist Book domestic page

And this page….it is like a piece of poetry waiting to be written.

An Artist Book toward the unknown