Books & Text

The following are examples of some of the works dealing with books and  text. These works explore the role that the written word and knowledge,  in the form of books, have played in the evolution of human culture. In  these and other works, memory and narrative play a central role, because  one of our distinctly human traits is our individual and collective  memory and our ability to tell stories based on memory.

Books, Memories, Reflections

This installation is a meditation on books, the  knowledge within them, and their place in our lives. Books, found  objects, paint; 1997.

Life on Earth

"Life on Earth" is a quartet of books that  celebrates the diversity of life on our planet. Three of the books  depict the major plant and animal groups. The fourth book depicts the  four-letter genetic code T, G, A, C: a text that stands for the four  nucleic-acid bases upon which all life is based. The four letters  combine in countless ways to produce all of the life forms on earth.  Books, plexiglass, paint, wood; each 9"x7"x2"; 2000.

Earth Sea Sky

"Earth Sea Sky" is a trilogy of books that do  not open. Their contents are outside, not inside, each book. They are a  metaphor for nature as our prime instruction book. Fish, fish scales,  sand, book; 9"x7"x2"; 2001.

Breaking the Code

"Breaking the Code" addresses the human longing  to get to the heart of the mystery of human existence and the  impossibility of deciphering the indecipherable. Earth, plaster, books;  6' diameter; 2000.

Palpimpscest: Tree of Life/ Carl Birky

"Palimpsest: Tree of Life/Carl Birky" is a  memorial tribute to my late father, who was a sociology professor. For  several decades he wrote research and class notes on 3"x5" index cards.  Since many of these cards were written while we lived in Iran for two  years, I decided to superimpose the pattern of a Persian rug that he  purchased on the note cards, family photos and other memorabilia. The  rug pattern is called "The Tree of Life", a fitting metaphor for my  father's life and his family tree. In this piece, the cards, photos,  memorabilia, and painted rug pattern create a palimpsest of several  layers.

Saints and Mystics

For this work, I chose quotations from five  saints and mystics that were the inspiration for the contents of the  five ladder structures. The ladders were inspired by St. John of the  Cross's description of a mystic ladder of divine love by which the soul  mounts to God. Wood, plaster, mixed media; each 67"x12"x3"; 1998.

Bookworm

"Bookworm" gives a new and literal interpretation to an old term. The  bookworm is eating its way through The Book of Knowledge and Les  Miserables. Books, wood, paper; 10"x13"x9"; 1998. 

The Seven Wonders of the World

This piece celebrates the important role that seven overlooked objects and beings have played in the world: dirt, bread, worms, nails, string, paper, and the average person. Each object is accompanied by a written meditation on its role in human history.

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