Tile Paintings

Tile Paintings as an altered book created from a book published by The Victoria & Albert Museum. The V&A Museum, established in 1852, is the world’s leading museum of art and design.

The museum’s opening followed the very successful Great Exhibition of 1851. Held in the purpose-built Crystal Palace and organized  by Henry Cole and Prince Albert, it was the first international exhibition of manufactured products. Its founding principle, and one which is followed to this day, was to make works of art available to all, to educate working people and to inspire British designers and manufacturers.

To this end, the V&A publishes about 30 books annually, working jointly with Penguin Random House and Thames and Hudson. In addition to promoting research, knowledge and enjoyment of the designed world, the publications generate profit for the museum. Current publications range from a charming children’s story by Jack Townend (A Story about Ducks $8US) to a Vivienne Westwood Opus Manifesto limited edition ($2700US).

The Colour Book series (published from 1985-1989) includes titles such as Decorative End Papers (1985), Patterns for Papers (1987), Japanese Stencils (1988), Novelty Fabrics (1988) and Ikats (1989). I have altered two books from this series, Tile Paintings (from Series 1 of the Colour books), and Indian Floral Patterns (also from Series 1). You can read my post about Indian Floral Patterns here.

The books are a lovely size to work with (8 x 5.5 x .5); each of the pages richly colored and most with little or no text. Tile Paintings piece is a pairing of the published book with four tile shards that were gifted to me years ago by a fellow scavenger.

Four shaped holes (roughly following the shape of the shards) have been cut through the cover and all of the pages; in the recesses rest the shards. The shards are protected when the book is closed with mica laminated in between the first end page and first few pages of the text block.

With a mix of PVA and methyl cellulose, I laminated several pages together, leaving me  with four double-page spreads to work with. Hundreds of paper cut outs in various shapes and sizes (the cut outs based on the recessed shapes using full-color reproductions taken from the book’s pages) are collaged onto the individual pages, obliterating the text.  Areas in between the collaged bits are  hand painted with gouache and acrylic inks. Although the book stays closed on its own, there is an additional magnetic/ribbon closure.

I typically create a utilitarian single tray, drop-spine box for my artists’ books; for Tile Paintings I stepped up from the strictly utilitarian and created a box with the same color-reproductions lining the inside.

Wildflower Identification

From the Lovely and Amazing series, this limited edition book uses images, artifacts and writings from the archive of my great aunt, Ruth Wheeler. Ruth led a rich and varied life, passionate about both nature and teaching (she was a biologist with a teaching certificate). She had a big impact on how my views of the world were shaped. Creating my own works from that which she left me has brought me moments of joy and a bit of sadness too.

The general parameters of Wildflower Identification were partially set using the Ideation Deck (developed by Julie Chen and Barb Tetenbaum).

Cards I drew from the Ideation Deck were the starting point for this book.
Cards I drew from the Ideation Deck were the starting point for this book.

Based on Hedi Kyle’s Blizzard Book (so called because Hedi developed the folded paper structure when a blizzard in Philadelphia kept her studio bound for a day), Wildflower Identification has 14 envelope pages created from one long sheet of Batik paper (imported from India).

I chose to work with this structure for a variety of reasons. The most obvious is my wish to present material non-linearly, allowing pages be removed and re-arranged. The content of the pages peeks out from that which contains them, reminiscent of plants peeking out, enticing a closer look. More obscurely, I chose this structure because it was developed by Hedi Kyle. I’m convinced that Hedi and Ruth would have enjoyed one another’s company had they ever met. Both have been role models for me. I am inspired by their excitement, curiosity and passion about their worlds, their lifelong willingness to share, educate and support those of us fortunate enough to have spent time with them.

Alicia Bailey and Hedi Kyle
Here I am with Hedi Kyle in Philly, 2013

The contents of the envelopes are cards, photographs or seed specimens adapted from Ruth’s archive. The three photographs are of teenage girls out on a seed and plant gathering adventure (taken on November 13, 1948),  scanned, cropped and re-printed.

Original photo and reprints
Original photo and reprints

The cards duplicate Ruth’s handwriting and are taken from her many teaching files – these specific to teaching ‘her girls’ about plant identification and cultivation.

Tracing from original writings (right), finished cards (left).
Tracing from original writings (right), finished cards (left).

Each book also contains three laminated seed and flower collections

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and an original page from Chester A. Reed’s Flower Guide published in 1916, also laminated.

Page ready for laminating. Each book has a different original page from the 1916 book.
Page ready for laminating. Each book has a different original page from the 1916 book.

These, along with a title card (colophon on reverse) make up the contents of the book.

Some of the joys of designing and creating this book include time spent going through Ruth’s collections of photographs and writings, teaching my studio assistant Stefanie how to fold the pages (this is now one of her favorite activities and she has her own project in development utilizing the Blizzard Book), working with a rich, purple Nigerian goat (from Harmatan), a luscious and tactilely rewarding material, and making pastepaper for the project while listening to Western Bird Calls.

I used pastepapers inspired by Lucinda Carr for the text cards.
I used pastepapers inspired by Lucinda Carr for the text cards.

Note: several years ago, Lucinda Carr (invited me to her studio for a day of pastepaper production. Lucinda was producing and selling some fabulous paste papers and I was eager to learn her work methods. We set up and when it was time to go to work she said “This is my secret for making great paste papers – I listen to bird call identification recordings while I work”.

As I’ve worked with these materials, I’ve had not unpleasant moments of wistful sadness (sentimental nostalgia?). Some of this is related to missing Ruth but there is something else this material stirs up I me.

I’ve developed quite an attachment, crushes of a sort, to these girls (a few of whom are pictured again and again, on other outdoor, educational adventures, in Ruth’s photo albums), my emotional response based solely on impressions of who they may have been, these girls who so appreciated nature, whose curiosity and willingness to explore was endlessly nurtured by Ruth. I feel envious sometimes that I wasn’t one of “Ruthie’s girls” – many of them remained lifelong friends of Ruth’s and went on to nurture other young women throughout their own lives.

This picture of Ruth was taken in 1981 (she was 82). She is with two of her former Camp Fire Girls
This picture of Ruth was taken in 1981 (she was 82). She is with two of her former Camp Fire Girls

As I ruminate on the adventures Ruth’s archives document I feel a yearning to connect to my younger, more able-bodied, less educated self. I long to experience once again lovely stretches of time when activities such as of going out, alone or with others, to identify wildflowers the only mission aside from eating a picnic lunch in a wooded grove, perhaps near a running stream.

An archive of process materials is housed at University of Denver, Penrose Library, Special Collections.

Process materials for Wildflower Identification
Process materials for Wildflower Identification

 

Click here to purchase online.

Lovely and Amazing at University of Denver

I’m once again thrilled that the pieces I’ve created using from the archives of long-time Denver resident Ruth Wheeler will be on view in public spaces . . .

Lovely and Amazing is a series I began in 2006, is a tribute to Ruth Wheeler, beloved biology teacher, naturalist, youth advocate and feminist who lived and worked in north Denver for 70 years. Filled with curiosity, Ruth found the natural world a place of endless delight. She left behind a collection of biological specimens, notes and photographs which I have incorporated into a series of three-dimensional collages, boxes and book works. Wasp and Praying Mantis pictured below.

Nearly all the book works (and a few of the boxes) from the Lovely and Amazing series are on view at University of Denver’s library January 5 through March 29. The former Penrose Library, renamed Anderson Academic Commons after a complete remodel of the existing building, now houses curated exhibition areas throughout the three level structure. Thanks to the ongoing support of Special Collections librarian Kate Crow and Anderson Academic Commons exhibits curator Rebecca Macey, my work is on display on the main level, strategically located near the main entrance/coffee shop. The library’s generous open hours (24/7 during some weeks of the year) puts this at the top of the the list for Denverites and visitors looking to engage with interesting exhibits at odd hours.

On the top level of the library is the Gottesfeld Room where the bulk of their collection of artists’ books are stored in glass fronted cabinets. The room is open access during library hours but for hands on viewing of the books, visitors need to make an appointment with Special Collections, open from 9-5 Monday – Friday.

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Although I’m not a University of Denver “Pioneer” (i.e. alum), I am pleased beyond measure that Penrose Library Special Collections has taken on the role of designated repository of my work in the book arts field.

Alicia Bailey process materials

What this makes possible in terms of display are exhibits such as the 2013 exhibit in Special Collections in the lower level of the library featuring the process materials of one of my edition works, Burning Me Open, alongside process materials from a series of works by Laura Wait (whose book works are also collected by Penrose Library Special Collections, University of Denver).

The books from this series were also been exhibited at 23 Sandy Gallery in Portland in 2013.

Also on view at University of Denver are books of mine created in response to works in Lovely and Amazing, such as Mica (pictured below).

Indian Floral Patterns

Indian floral patterns

I finished this book in 2011 as part of that year’s Book A Week project. I’m posting about it now because it is currently on view in the Bound and Unbound II exhibit at the University of South Dakota. My book is in great company in this exhibit – so many much admired book artists also have work in the show.

I haven’t seen the exhibition but the link to the online catalog is here, and the artist listing is here.

It is one of but a handful of altered books I’ve worked on, this one starting with Indian Floral Patterns, from Series I of the Victoria and Albert Colour Books.
I’ve also altered a second in the V&A Series – Tile Paintings from Series II.

Alicia Bailey Indian floral patterns pages

For Indian Floral Patterns I cut 3 round holes through the front cover and all of the pages. In the recesses formed by the holes rest four bone beads hand-carved in India. The beads are protected when the book is closed with mica laminated in between the first end page and first few pages of the text block. Circular paper cut outs in a range of sizes, picturing the same floral patterns depicted in the book, have been collaged onto the individual pages, obliterating the text.

The book is housed in a custom clamshell box and is available for purchase here.

Bliss

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Each year the Morgan Conservatory in Cleveland, Ohio, sponsors a fundraising event called the Snail Mail Paper Trail. Artists are sent two sheets of handmade paper, made at the Morgan, and asked to create an artwork from one or both of the sheets. The artworks are then auctioned at the October Gala. I’ve been participating since 2009 (see Snail) and Yearning for Morgan.

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My two sheets of paper (one sheet each of white and dark gray cotton abaca blend) arrived at the studio on the same day I opened a set of Julie Chen and Barbara Tetenbaum’s Ideation Deck
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(if you don’t know about this wonderful tool for book related projects, you should . . . click here). I dealt the following cards, eliminating the paper category:
layout: in the form of a diagram, chart, or map
technique: high-tech (letterpress, offset, printmaking, etc
text: collaborate with writer or poet
image: none
Paper: provided
structure: innovative (tunnel book, magic wallet, carousel, flag book, etc.
color:single color
adjectives:
dissonant, traditional or historical, sculptural, impressionistic, poetic
Morgan 2013

The result is Bliss – an accordion fold book using a quote from Portia Masterson’s Bicycling Bliss.

Bliss is an enduring form of contentment derived from being fully present and practicing simplicity, moderation, self-nurture, reflection & conscious breathing.

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Granted the structure isn’t particularly innovative; I had originally thought this would be a tunnel book but had to redesign because the cut paper pages were too delicate.

After designing the pages in Adobe Illustrator,

Alicia Bailey WIP Bliss2the pages were lasercut

Alicia Bailey WIP Bliss3

and mounted between two translucent sheets of Japanese kozo paper, folded up as an accordion and cased in to a hard cover. Only one edge is attached, so the accordion will unfold to display the entire quote.

The book will be auctioned off at this years’ Annual Benefit and Silent Auction: Opposites Attract on October 5. There will be nearly 200 works from local, national and international artists; its worth a trip to Cleveland!

Theia Mania

Alicia-Bailey-TheiaMania13I’ve been slow to blog about this piece, which was conceived several years ago, with the edition completed in 2010 under the Ravenpress imprint. It seems to me that the only way to manage saying all there is to say about Theia Mania is to write first about the project concept and origins. I’ll write about the design and fabrication of the components in another post.
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Theia Mania is a multi-layered project, fed by inspiration and experiences rooted in my childhood. The working title of the early stages was Magnetic Attraction. It began with the intention to create a book with text, imagery, sound and smell. I wanted to generate content from a broader point of view than my own, so used contributions from friends and strangers alike, along with what drives much of my studio work; a longing to become familiar with experiences outside my own.

Theia Mania was a term used by ancient Greeks to describe the cauldron of emotions rooted in eros, romantic love, a passionate longing and desire. The phrase translates to divine madness or madness of the Gods. This project was inspired by and presents stories of contemporary connections in both audio and written form, including the story of my parents’ meeting, marrying and raising a family.

Unsure of what the final form would be, my longtime collaborative partner, Heidi Zednik, and I invited those who had felt the prick of one of these darts or arrows to tell their story. The request was very broad; we asked those who had ever been dumbstruck by the gaze or attention of another to participate. Whether or not the connection was mutual, whether it lasted merely moments or evolved into a long-term connection, we were interested in that first current of connection and the awareness that something momentous was taking place.

Of the dozens who expressed interest, only 12 individuals completed the process. Their stories were collected as audio files and are the basis for both the text and audio portions of this piece. Some called my home phone and told their story to a machine (which lent some interesting pops and beeps to the recording), others met either Heidi or I in person and we recorded their story on a digital recorder, some created their own digital recording and transmitted it to me electronically, and one anonymous individual sent an email with the request that I read it if it were chosen for selection. Although outside the original parameters for the project, I did include this story. Alicia-Bailey-TheiaMania04

The stories were transcribed and edited by Heidi. The edited text versions are presented as poems, each coupled with photographs selected for this project. The audio tracks were used as the basis for a musical composition, written and performed by sound producer Scott Waknin with guest saxophonist Bill Janssen. Also on the CD are two full-length narratives; the story of my parents (mentioned above) and the story of Emily and Brit, whose story I heard when Emily visited my gallery to buy gifts for Brit. In neither case was it possible to record their versions so I wrote the narratives and had each read and recorded (Wayne Gilbert and Mare Travathan performed the readings).

The piece includes a woven binding structure based on a Claire van Vliet design, Alicia-Bailey-TheiaMania06a small recipe book made with a piano hinge, Alicia-Bailey-TheiaMania03a sachet of herbs with a love potion recipe, Alicia-Bailey-TheiaMania02an accordion book in a round aluminum tin Alicia-Bailey-TheiaMania01and an audio compact disk & wrapper. Alicia-Bailey-TheiaMania05All are contained in a rectangular aluminum hinged tin that is held closed with a handprinted sleeve. Alicia-Bailey-TheiaMania07Page imaging includes laser etching, color laser prints, color inkjet prints, black and white laser prints, paste papers, laser printed metal foil and relief printing. The main text is woven with tinted tyvek.

There are 35 signed and numbered copies of the entire set. An additional set of compact discs was created and gifted to each contributor. Those who contributed stories were also given an unbound copy of their story page.

You can watch a video about the piece on you tube.

To purchase a copy please contact Abecedarian Gallery, , 23 Sandy Gallery, or Vamp and Tramp Booksellers.

Burning Me Open

Burning_Me_Open_edition_0001

I have had such a wonderful time working on this book. The project uses materials that are visually and texturally so rich they were a joy to work with.

 

There are 18 copies in the edition, plus one A/P. It measures 5 x 3 x 2 3/4 inches (closed) and weighs 24 ounces. It is priced at $540.

 

 

It takes the text and imagery from my 2009 artists’ book of the same title. I wrote the original text; the original illustrations were oil-paintings, re-created as line illustrations for this project.

 

The book pages are transparent, and thus allow sections of several pages to be viewed at once. The pages are rigid and thick, designed to display well both flat or upright. When displayed upright, lighting can be adjusted for increased interplay between the line illustrations and the shadows they cast.

Burning_Me_Open_edition_0006

 

text selection from the book:


there is one who touches me so it burns

my hands open

at their feeling of

the length of me

 

The materials:

 

Peltogyne (Purpleheart) is a tree native to Central and South America, growing in the tropical rainforests, This beautiful wood is a light brown when freshly cut that then shifts towards a deep reddish-violet as it is exposed more to UV rays. As a hardwood, it sands down to a smooth hard surface and once waxed feels wonderful to touch. Purpleheart is an exotic lumber, this batch acquired from a US company that insists its suppliers follow Responsible Forestry Practices.

 

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Copper is one of my favorite metals and this book uses both copper leaf and thin copper tape of the sort used in stained glass. When the book is closed, it is possible to see down through several layers. A reality of working with transparent materials and text is that portions of the text will inevitably be reversed. This I find distracting so my solution for this book was to block the bottom inch or so of each page with an opaque (in this case copper leaf) material. I also needed something to help hold the pages together. I had first tried drilling holes in all 4 corners of each page and using copper wire as rivets but the task was fussy, time consuming with the end result visually dissatisfying.

 

The solution I settled on was creating shapes of copper leaf with PMA mounted on each side. The PMA faces the acrylic pages and holds them in place until the copper tape can be wrapped around the outer perimeter of each page.

 

How we did it:

 

The rigid pages that make up the text block are constructed of  several layers, a sandwich (from the bottom up) of etched cast acrylic, copper leaf with PMA on both sides facing outward and a second piece of etched acrylic. This creates pages that are 3/16 inch thick, their edges are sealed with copper tape.

WIP burning_me_open edition_0008WIP burning_me_open edition_0016WIP burning_me_open edition_0014

 

The covers were planed to 3/8 inch thick, the cover image laser etched in, the title area chiseled out, then sanded and waxed.

WIP burning_me_open edition_0021

WIP burning_me_open edition_0019
WIP burning_me_open edition_0006

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The recessed title label is laser printed copper leaf mounted on museum board.  The book is coptic sewn across the spine with dyed and waxed 4 ply linen thread, using yet another variation from Keith Smith’s well worn Sewing Single Sheets (Non-Adhesive Binding Volume IV).


WIP burning_me_open edition_0001

 

My thanks go to Shannon Perry, who created the illustrator files from a series of oil paintings I produced in 2007 and my studio assistants Stefanie Cornish and Jonathan Wiley. Without their help this project might still be in the idea stage

 

Copies of this book are available for purchase from Abecedarian Gallery.

Privileges and Discipline

Disciplines Privileges 5Disciplines Privileges 1

This book re-purposes pages from a collaborative project I worked on when I was actively involved (as visitor/volunteer) with a now  defunct therapeutic community (Cenikor).

 

 

Therapeutic communities are drug-free environments in which people with addictive (and other) problems live together in an organized  and structured way in order to promote change and make possible a drug-free life in the outside society. The therapeutic community forms  a miniature society in which residents, and staff in the role of facilitators, fulfill distinctive roles and adhere to clear rules, all designed to  promote the transitional process of the residents.

 

Disciplines Privileges 4

 

 

 

The original project was a game board made of sixteen 8 inch square paintings, each painting referencing an aspect of the TC system of  privileges and disciplines. Dissatisfied with some of the paintings, I dissembled the game board years ago and this week am turning it into  an accordion style book, using some of the phrases that used to be so familiar to me but now have lost their resonance.

 

Disciplines Privileges 2

The text was imaged via laser etching directly onto the canvas paintings, the pages hinged with acrylic tinted tyvek. The case cover is paste-cloth, the end pages paste paper.

Disciplines Privileges 3

The Colorado based Cenikor was closed in 2004; its demise due to internal abuses of residents and staff of the sort the program was  designed to help clients recover from. With three facilities still operating, Cenikor’s 24-36 month program is one of the toughest TC’s to  graduate from. A clear majority of the residents are there by court order, few are able to successfully transition into drug and crime free  lives.

 

My awareness of this particular TC began when my older brother was given an opportunity to go through the Cenikor program as an alternative to prison. Cenikor hosted a weekly open house, when approved family members and friends were allowed to come visit for two hours every Saturday evening. I remember many a Saturday driving over, listening to the local jazz station’s Saturday night blues hour en route.

It was tough watching the slow, agonizing and too often unsuccessful process of addicts struggling against odds so clearly stacked against them; working to re-build their lives on crumbling foundations, so much already lost to them. It was tough watching the visiting families, my own included, holding on to shreds of hope that their loved one would be one of the few to ‘make it’.

My volunteerism was limited to helping some of the residents apply for, and happily be granted, amnesty from outstanding IRS debts, thus helping to eliminate one of the many anxieties living responsibly entails.

This is taken from the frontspiece of the book:


In 1967, a group of inmates in a Colorado state penitentiary, who were committed to breaking the cycle of substance abuse and the criminal behavior that supports their addictions, established Cenikor, a residential therapeutic community.


Therapeutic communities typically employ a system of phases, privileges and disciplines  for their residents (clients) in order to promote change and make possible a drug-free life in the outside society. The therapeutic community forms a miniature society in which residents, and staff in the role of facilitators, fulfill distinctive roles and adhere to clear rules, all designed to promote the transitional process of the residents.


In 2004 the Colorado facility, the original Cenikor, shut down operations following the suspension of the nonprofit group’s license by the Colorado Department of Human Services because of alleged improprieties.


Complaints included the manufacture of methamphetamines on site, prostitution, intimate involvement of staffers with female clients and welfare fraud.  
Three other Cenikor facilities, in Texas and Louisiana, still operate.

Hearts for Marcia – October 2, 2011

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My dad loved to make things. My dad loved my mom. He liked making things to tell her how much he loved her. Every year for many years, on Valentine’s Day, he made her a piece of jewelry with a heart motif.

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I made a book that holds many of the hearts he made her.

 

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Most of the pages are made with wood I saved from his wood shop after he died. He used both cherry and poplar for instrument soundboards (his making of harpsichords as a vocation was started when he made another love gift for my mother – a harpsichord. That story is expanded on in my project Theia Mania). He planed down wooden planks to about 1/8 inch and edge joined them for the soundboards. He saved even the smallest bits of leftover materials, so when he died there were several lengths of soundboard scrap.

 

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The wooden hearts he made from alderwood and ebony, again byproducts from the harpsichords. Many instrument makers buy pre-made keys but my dad made them himself. He shaped ebony, poplar and basswood for the keys; he also routed out the rosettes (of rosewood) that appear on the front edge of the keys. Some of the keyboards were reversed – the main keyboard (white keys) of ebony, the sharps and flats poplar.

 

To accommodate the thickness of the hearts, I suspended each heart with a length of thread in between two layers of wood with identical windows cut out (yes, I used the laser cutter for this, and to create the sewing holes in one step).

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He wasn’t a particularly innovative jewelry designer but had silversmithing skills and tools and often made simple pieces of jewelry, again for my mother. Committed to principles of re-purposing long before those principles reached the trendy status they now how, he melted down silver coins to create jewelry. Most of wood hearts were also wrapped with a silver braided wire, or had metal embedded into them.

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Later he started messing around more with epoxy resins and one of the last hearts he made is a swirl of color shaped into a heart.

 

I always enjoy these times of working with the same materials he used, often using the very tools he used. This book exemplifies the negative aspect of my  allegiance to finishing a book each week in that the level of craft is not up to the standard set by my father.


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This book measures 3 1/4 x 3 1/2 x 3 5/8 deep and has 9 pages, plus 2 covers

Venus and Mars

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My father (Tom Bailey) and his aunt, the woman who raised him (he was orphaned at 9), were both born in September. He was born on  September 15, 1929 and died in 2006. His aunt Ruth was born on September 23, 1899 and died in December of 1998.

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I don’t know if it is related to their birth dates, but over the years I’ve noticed that thoughts of them both surface  more in the fall than during other times of year. 
I like to think about them both. They are the two in my family whose personality traits my own are most akin to.  Intelligent, educated, filled with curiosity, fascinated with the physical world, and introverted. Ruth was  passionate about the organic structure of the world she knew and studied biology. Tom studied the physical  structure of objects and relationships between them and became a mechanical engineer. I find solace in the  handling and manipulation of objects and became an artist. I have an archive rich with objects belonging to them  both and often include items from those archives in my personal studio work.

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As most parent/child relationships are, my relationship with my father was a complex one, and one that shifted  throughout the years. He knew me most of my life. I say most of because he suffered from dementia in has later  years and wasn’t at all sure who I was for the last bit.

venus and mars  3He, like me, was socially awkward, and although he had a brilliant and creative mind, was filled with self-doubt. He relished his solitude and appreciated the life of experience and sensation as well as the life of the mind. He was filled with emotions he seemed fearful of expressing.

 

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Ruth, whether by character or social constraints of the time, also had difficulty expressing the love she felt. I think of my dad as emotionally tone-deaf. Do I think of myself in this same way? Sometimes.

 

 

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So this week I made a book/assemblage from an astronomy book that moved from Ruth’s house to mine when she died. The unbound pages are collaged boards; recessed areas hold images of both Ruth and my father overlaid with mica. Each page has two circular cut outs that allow them to fit over round wooden assemblages attached to the inside covers of the book. The book is primarily, but not entirely, built from the original Astronomy book. The assemblages built with items and materials from both Ruth and Tom’s archives.