BY W. S. MERWIN
Your absence has gone through me
Like thread through a needle.
Everything I do is stitched with its color.
Quote I read in the London Telegraph in 2010 “Oxford English Dictionary 'will not be printed again'
The next edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, the world’s most definitive work on the language, will never be printed because of the impact of the internet on book sales.” (2010) Dictionary printing will stop completely in the next 20 years is the prediction.
Being raised in a rural community undergirds a great deal of my iconography and working practice. I have always been fascinated by dictionaries and a couple of years ago I realized I wasn’t seeing as many dictionaries in thrift stores and antique shops as I previously had. I learned that dictionary printing has been greatly reduced and most of my recent large sculptures memorialize and mourn the passing of the dictionary – a tool I think of as humble yet incredibly powerful cultural relic now being discarded along with many other types of books. I twist and manipulate hundreds of dictionary pages to force an intimacy with the subject becoming object, with the reverence for the passed life and the confrontation of the doggedly present body of pages/vocabularies/and understanding. Dictionaries have always been my translators – a way for me to establish immediate understanding and vital contact with the world. As the printed dictionary passes from the world I want to use the physical remains of dictionaries to create artworks that are able to communicate my ideas and feelings about the fragile nature of the human condition that can’t be relayed by sentences alone. I hope to connect the abstraction of narrative with the physicality of porcelain, thread and dictionary pages. By playing with the mass gesture of this much paper I hope that the text and texture of the pages will form a literal embodied narrative that opens into vast, imaginative space for the viewer and provokes them into thinking how objects can reflect our inner emotional life as well as being a container for memory.