Friday, May 02, 2014
Spirit Book in Library Collection
I am so pleased to report that Spirit Book #55: Sheltering Flight is now in the George J. Mitchell Dept. of Special Collections & Archives of the Bowdoin College Library. I made the connection through the Book Arts Bazaar in Portland last month. It is the first of the Spirit Books to be placed in a library collection. Why is that you may ask?
I did a Book Arts Fair as part of a conference at Wellesley College about 10 years ago. While there, I felt a distinct lack of interest in my work (all Spirit Books) by many of the institutional collectors. And I wasn't imagining things. I would watch them engage with the tables on either side of me, give a sidelong glance at my table and then look at the floor and dash by. I couldn't even make eye contact let alone have a conversation short of leaping out to bar their passage. And so being me and always quick to draw stark conclusions, I decided that this was not an audience for my work. This purchase encourages me to think that there may be a place for the books in some library collections.
After years of not selling the Spirit Books, I am ready to. It has never been that I cared about keeping them because I love them too much to part with them. I had two reasons. One was that I thought that I might be able to keep them all together in some kind of permanent exhibition (a wild dream and unlikely for an artist of my modest stature) or create an exhibition that could travel indefinitely (too complicated logistically in terms of scheduling and shipping for me to handle on my own—I did give it serious thought and attention). The second is that I am always conscious of a fundamental conflict between art and commerce (read The Gift by Lewis Hyde) and have a hard time presenting my work in terms of sales instead of showing and sharing, even after 35 years as an artist.
Why am I ready now? Because I realize that having so many of the Spirit Books in my possession was slowing, if not stifling, the creative process. Why make more if they are only going to be shown occassionally and otherwise, fill more and more space in our third floor storage space? The important thing for me now is to work and create as freely as possible and if that means putting some attention to sales that so I can continue to make work, so be it. If you know of a collection that might be interested, I'd appreciate information. Feel free to email me.
Starting next week, I'll be sharing information about my project to make the Spirit Books accessible to as many people as possible through a printed book about the Spirit Books. Stay tuned.