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Re: Current Events



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          CENTRAL NEW YORK BOOK ARTS: TRADITIONAL TO INNOVATIVE
           See The Exhibition Online, And Order Your Catalog.
                      <http://www.philobiblon.com>
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Peter's question, below, about what those of us in the visual arts are doing
to deal with recent tragic events in their work prompted a lot of thought
and soul searching in me. Like many, I have not been able to do much
"serious" work all week, but instead have been watching and listening,
trying to assimilate and analyze and, if at all possible, understand. The
last eludes me. I am grateful that I recently purchased a letterpress shop
full of equipment that I have had to move to my own place, and then
reassemble and now organize and clean. I am grateful for things that keep my
hands busy. My normal methods of going about my day jobs (graphic designer
and educator and, lately, nonprofit book/printing center organizer), with an
ever-increasing pace even the Red Queen could not have imagined, have been
suspended. I find myself completely absorbed in these timeless, mundane
tasks that the new shop demands, wanting to give them my best, concentrating
on and caring for details as I have not done in a long while.

We have once again been blessed with very nice weather here in Cincinnati.
Earlier today I took my cats for a walk (yes, I said cats) in the
neighborhood. Walking cats is an exercise in forced Zen; one cannot do it
quickly, being pulled along at breakneck speed as so often is the case with
dogs. One must saunter, slowly, deliberately, as the cats check out every
part of their world to be sure it's ok. As we walked along, I was struck by
the brilliant blue of the sky (and yes, I have to confess I like it ever so
much better without all the jet trails), the brilliant green of the foliage,
here and there punctuated by denizens of bright yellow flowers. I realized
that I was "seeing" these scenes in a way that I had not been able to in
years. There is more to it, I think, than the idea that tragedy heightens
the senses and makes one stop to smell the roses, although that is true
enough. Years ago, when I was in graduate school, I remember trying to
explain in a critique the way I feel about my work. "I do not create this
work," I said to a group of art professors who all looked at me as if I had
two heads for saying such a blasphemous remark. "The ideas are not inside
me, but rather are out there, in the Universe, and I am merely the conduit,
the facilitator who helps the ideas take shape and form, and in this way,
the ideas connect with others and that completes the cycle."

So I remain, in this heightened state, watching, listening and trying to
complete a cycle somewhere; trying on many conclusions only to find that
others come along that are sometimes opposite and just as appealing. I have
learned from long experience that I cannot commit to any conclusions really,
because misinformation is flowing ever faster these days, while the truth
moves at its own pace, as it always has. This condition reminds me of my
formative years in the late 60s and 70s, a time when our society was visited
with one horror after another: race riots, our own citizens and leaders
sometimes saying horrible things and behaving in unspeakable ways; the Viet
Nam war, coming all too soon after Korea; the horror at Kent State... the
list goes on and on. And yet, perhaps it was the very craziness of this era
that fuelled such a productive, if tumultuous, time in the visual arts.

So today, I confess that I'm not being very productive in a creative sense.
My heightened senses signal to me that work will be forthcoming, so I'm at
the watch, waiting and listening. The ideas that are out there are confused
and my own radar is jammed. I am content, instead, to bide my time now,
grateful for the busywork. There are bags of pied type to be sorted,
shelving to be hung, even a jungle of a yard to be cleared. I pick up some
steel wool and machine oil and go back to making the Vandercook gleam.

Katie Harper
Cincinnati, OH






> From: "Peter D. Verheyen" <verheyen@PHILOBIBLON.COM>
> Reply-To: "Book_Arts-L: READ THE FAQ at http://www.philobiblon.com"
> <BOOK_ARTS-L@LISTSERV.SYR.EDU>
> Date: Sat, 15 Sep 2001 19:05:25 -0400
> To: BOOK_ARTS-L@LISTSERV.SYR.EDU
> Subject: Current Events
>
> ***********************************************
> CENTRAL NEW YORK BOOK ARTS: TRADITIONAL TO INNOVATIVE
> See The Exhibition Online, And Order Your Catalog.
> <http://www.philobiblon.com>
> ***********************************************
>
> Just got back from a long, wonderful, day away from the computer. It's been
> a horrific week for everyone, and on many levels. Speaking for myself, what
> happens next scares me far more than what happened. Talking about events is
> part of a healing process, and while not topically related to this list, is
> very important. To those of you who wrote so eloquently, thank you.
> However, what I do not want to see, and will not let happen is that we
> start sliding down a slippery slope of finger pointing and provocation, of
> whatever ilk. Our politicians, and influential others, are doing just fine
> for all of us.
>
> Instead, what would interest me is what people are doing to try to work
> this out through their work. I have a work-study student who is an art
> major, and very interested in the book who started obsessively creating a
> series drawings of the event. Richard Minsky has tackled many political
> topics in his work. What are others doing?
>
> Please, let's preserve a sense of dignity through all this.
>
> Thank you for your understanding, and cooperation.
>
> Peter
> Listowner, Book_Arts-L
>
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> Philobiblon: Book Arts, Different By Design
> Hand Binding, Conservation, and Project Websites
> Peter D. Verheyen
> <mailto:verheyen@philobiblon.com>
> <http://www.philobiblon.com/philobiblon>
>
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            BOOK_ARTS-L: The listserv for all the book arts.
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            resources and links go to the Book_Arts-L FAQ at:
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