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This time Is whatever I want it to be

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During the late nineties and early teens, I collaborated with another artist, Heidi Zednik. We’d met when we were both in residence at Dorland Mountain Art Colony. I had the entire run of a second floor studio – one half was my living quarters, the other my studio. Heidi was in residence as a writer – her cabin was dark, damp and cramped. Dorland is an odd place, where spontaneous socializing with others is discouraged, or so it was at the time. On a parcel of land deeded to the Nature Conservancy, Dorland was mostly off-grid; communications with the off-site world were done via a pay-phone located in a small room directly below my rooms. Each night I heard a woman’s voice, talking on that phone into the night. Her voice was a modulating hum, her words indistinguishable. Often I fell asleep listening to the sound of her voice.

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Dorland Mountain Art Colony

About a week into our month long residency, there was a violent storm. I opened the door and three of the colony cats scurried in. After fighting to get the door closed again, the cats and I sat hunched on my bed – I had never experienced a storm like this, living as I had in land-locked Colorado. By first light the storm had passed. I went outside and saw evidence of the storm everywhere I looked. A large oak, uprooted by the wind, had blown down in the parking lot, landing on two of the vehicles parked there. As we residents stood around gawping at the damage, the social protocols of Dorland were set aside and  I met Heidi, the woman whose voice I’d heard talking into the night.

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Heidi holding one of the treasures from my aunt’s archive

So started my afternoon walks with Heidi. We meandered through nearby orange groves, the air heavy with citrus perfume, our walks often ending with a cup of tea in her dark writers cabin. As our time at Dorland neared its end, we agreed to meet up at other times, in other geographies. We considered various collaborative projects, then tossed them aside.

Heidi was traveling a lot; road trips across the country, a move back to her homeland, Austria, then settling in Asheville, North Carolina, where she purchased and improved a historic family cabin, the builders and owners of the cabin the only prior occupants. Meanwhile I inherited the archive of my great Aunt Ruth – a treasure trove of photographs, paper ephemera and biological specimens dating back several generations. You can read more about the Ruth Wheeler archive here.

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Selection of objects from my aunt’s archive

In the crawl space of Heidi’s newly purchased but historic cabin were trunks filled with photographs, many of a man seated on a tricycle far too small for him, and bits of paper with lists of words. Heidi learned that this house, which had been in the same family for generations, was home to a differently abled fellow named Stanley. Stanley grew up and stayed in that house into adulthood. He loved wagons, tricycles and making word lists.

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Play – one of our collaborative pieces from the Stanley archive

Heidi lived in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina; I lived in the San Juan Mountains in Colorado. Having both come into a stockpile of ephemera around the same time, we struggled with wanting to use the ephemera but found it somehow too precious. Sharing the ephemera seemed like a way to begin. So we began mailing letters, photos, handwritten lists, old school notebooks etc. back and forth – each of us making our marks on these paper bits. We called this first collaborative project, which went on for several years, Notes from the Underground.

While we were working on a suite of works on engineering vellum that we called Flight Notes, Heidi mailed me a bit of paper on which she’d written

‘this time is whatever I want it to be’

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 Flight Notes

This phrase continues to resonate. In spring of 2018 I used it as basis for a double pamphlet structure I was experimenting with. This nine word sentence says enough – no need to embellish. So to flesh out the content of the book, I re-wrote the text in binary code. Here it is, page by page. It is now held by Special Collections at Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library.

PBP this time is fPBP this time is ePBP this time is dPBP this time is cPBP this time is bPBP this time is a

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Tile Paintings

This piece is available. Click here to purchase.

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.

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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).

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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.

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Bliss

Alicia Bailey WIP Bliss5

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.

Alicia Bailey WIP Bliss4

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!

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Privileges and Discipline

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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Hair 2001

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A couple weeks ago I got my hair cut at a small salon in Grand County, Colorado.  On impulse i asked the owner if she would save me the hair clippings for a few days, which she did. So I thought I’d make a book called Grand Hair. Instead I made a book called Hair 2001.


Materials: Hair, obviously. Laseretched plexiglass, waxed Cocobolo wood, linen twine, copper foil, mica. Leftover shapes of copper leaf:

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the last edition book, Burning Me Open, uses shapes of copper leaf applied with PMA to plexiglass. I mis-calculated and for every book an extra shape was cut out. I saved those extra shapes – eighteen 3×1 inch shapes of copper leaf all ready to put into a plexiglass page sandwich. Now what . . .

Mia Semingson Memorabilia

I decided to combine these two elements, copper foil & hair. Why? Copper is so beautiful and easy to work with. Hair is so creepy but tantalizing. A couple of years ago I saw a piece by Mia Semingson called Memorabilia” –  a fixed lid of clear plexiglass covers a box stuffed with her own hair; the box then case bound into a cover, the sides of the box covered with suede. This book of mine is quite different, but the thing Mia’s work inspired is the creation of a queasy feeling that comes with handling a box of human hair, even when the actual tactile experience is that of touching a very different feeling material – plexiglass.  So it is the thought of touching all that hair that is disturbing. On a strictly visual level, the hair in Memorobilia, made of countless layers of rich protein strands, is interesting and worthy of lengthy appaisal. In short, I appreciate both the visual effect and the queasy feeling interacting with her books creates.

 

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The method of assembly and binding  I used with the Burning Me Open is a good fit. Using the PMA that is on the copper leaf to hold each of 2 plexiglass pieces together. Pictured right the foil is affixed to one side of the plexiglass. Bits of hair were put onto that surface, the release paper pulled off and the other piece of plexi placed on top. The edges are then taped together with copper foil.

 

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I have had this silly book –  The History of Hair . . . An Illustrated Review of Hair Fashions for Men Throughout the Ages –  for many years. Published in 1960 it includes a chapter called Look Into My Crystal Ball (The Twentieth Century). The text for my book Hair 2001, is taken directly from that chapter.

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Here are some predictions (paraphrased), the authors made for the year 2001:

According to Coiffure Masculine, by 2001 75% of the male population will be wearing wigs.

Not, however, to conceal baldness, but as fashion accessories.

These wigs will not be a camouflage for natural hair.

On the contrary, they will be worn with great personal pride.

Wigs for different occasions will appear on the fashion scene

Wigs for work. Wigs for dancing. Wigs for dress.

It is predicted that by the year 2001, baldness will be obsolete.

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These predictions I’ve prefaced with the questions, also paraphrased from the book:

By the year 2001, will a lunar hippie protest by means of a closely-shaved scalp?

A balding Astro flash a pair of false eyebrows to offset a full magnetic wig?

 

 

 

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The 6 rigid pages consist of laseretch plexiglass, hair, copper foil and copper tape, bound in a variation of an across the spine coptic style first introduced to me by Keith Smith and found in his book Smith’s Sewing Single Sheets. They are sewn with heavyweight linen twine. The covers are of Cocobolo wood that I get from Bell Forest Products. This is a wood that is too oily to glue well, but for sewn on covers it works very well. Those same oily properties means this wood polishes beautifully. The covers of Hair 2001 are waxed – smooth and silky to the touch.

As an aside, Cocobolo wood also has a strong odor, a very pleasant tangy floral order, sort of like my shampoo. The front cover has a window cut out, into which a sandwich of mica, plexiglass and hair is inset.

I am well pleased with this book. The size (The book measures 3 1/2 x 3 1/4 x 1 5/8 closed) and weight of it feel good in the hands. It is visually enticing and well constructed. The content makes me chuckle.

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Yearning for Morgan

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Coming up in October is the fourth Annual Fundraising Auction at the  Morgan Paper Conservatory in Cleveland, OH. Each year they invite artists to create a piece using paper made at the Morgan. This year is the second time I’ve participated in this fundraiser – The Snail Mail Paper Trail. Snail Mail because they mail sheets of paper to any artist who wants to participate. Paper from the Morgan is a treat to work with – they know how to make paper at the Morgan! This year I received 3 sheets, in two different tones.

 

The first one I sent, last year, is blogged about here.

 

This year I created a book utilizing an alphabet I created several years ago – the alphabet is pictograph based, rather than phonetic. I like to think of it as a good general purpose alphabet and is  always expanding in that I’m always creating new elements for this alphabet. So it is an unfinished alphabet, or rather a work in progress.

 

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The title, Yearning for Morgan, operates on more than one level. It is literal – a selection of yearning alphabet symbols presented in a book created for the Morgan. But also, when I think about places like the Morgan, places I imagine to be rich with ongoing projects, like-minded artists working during residencies, workshops and exhibitions, I am filled with a yearning to be in one of those places. Denver doesn’t have such a place. This goes even deeper; at times, I yearn for a different life.

 

And, buried even more deeply, is my yearning for my old Morgan mare, Reba. Reba was the last horse I owned and I sold her several years ago. She was a great horse, and I always assumed I’d get another Morgan mare sometime but I haven’t yet and now that I’m living in a city again, I probably won’t. Recently I decided to sell my old saddle and tack, but haven’t gotten around to it. I still have tack, and old gymkhana ribbons dating back to my very first horse, the horse I got in 1969 – 42 years ago. Maybe I’m just yearning for my life to be a little bit different. To be filled with a promise and excitement that is a little elusive in middle-age.


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Back to Yearning for Morgan, this book was made by cutting the characters out of one of the cooler toned sheets of paper (using a laseretcher) and mounting those pages to folios made from the warmer toned sheets of paper. Underneath each character is the name I’ve linked to the character. The book is bound in a millimeter style binding with paper covered board covers and calfskin spine. The cover title, title page and colophon are laser transfer. It measurers 5 1/2 inches by 4 1/8 by 3/8 inches. And I also want to mention that the characters I use for laseretching were converted to EPS so they can be read by the laseretcher by my friend & Adobe Illustrator genius Shannon Perry.


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