Thursday, January 15, 2009

Distressed Elements

I have chosen distressed elements as my theme for this altered book project. I find that I gravitate toward art and art supplies that have their own history...that have a natural, weathered patina...that have the nicks of life that make them more interesting. Like people who have lived and taken risks and gone on their own personal journeys and adventures.

I had a difficult time choosing the "right" book for this project. After much deliberation, I have chosen to alter a book I already own...Oracle Night by Paul Auster. I have made this choice for a number of reasons. Practically, the book seems to be the perfect size (8 1/2" x 6" + 3/4" thick) and its relatively new, crisp pages will make a sturdy base for altering.

But even more important are the other reasons. Paul Auster is a favorite author. Like me, he lives in NYC and the city plays a big role in his novels. His writing style is very distinct and there is often a magical component to his work, which generally focuses on coincidence and synchronicity. There is one section even describing the quest for a book, coincidentally much like our own search for the right book to alter.

Oracle Night is a dark story. In fact, it touches on the more distressing elements of life. The story is about a writer and is anchored by a series of events that unfold following his purchase of a special blue notebook...a quite ordinary book that seems to have a powerful influence on those who come in contact with it. For all these reasons, Oracle Night ultimately resonated with me.

All five of us have such varied styles. I am hoping that each of us will bring our own personal touch to every altered book and that the end result will be six remarkable books. I look forward to seeing how this project unfolds. And, much like the story in the book I have chosen to alter, to see the powerful influence that all of our books have on our own lives!


  1. Call me a sheltered girl but I've never read anything by Auster but now you've got me intrigued. I'm a voracious reader so I will definitely have to check out "The Oracle."

    I am looking forward to seeing how ya'lls altered books progress. That is something I've never done (YET) but I want to learn and I know I'll learn much from watching what you all do with yours in this RR. Very cool.

    Oh, and I adore that you're drawn to distressed pieces and parts to use in your art. I, too, love the life shown in pieces that bear "used" items.

    Peace & Love,

  2. Seth - great choice for your book and your explanation for choice is so visual - each of you has chosen such different styles and genres - I too look forward to seeing the progress you make with this intriguing project - Reva (Los Angeles)

  3. Paul Auster has edited one of my all time favorite books of poetry--its almost always near... he's been a gift, as a translator as well... I look forward to seeing what you do Seth, as always.

  4. pleased to have stumbled into your blog...altered books are a particular interest of mine...look foward to following along with this project...

  5. It will be so interesting to see how the content in the book as well as the differences in each artists approach will affect the final outcome!

  6. I always love the spiritual based themes you use in your work..This theme of 'distressed elements' will be great with this theme of the book and title...I am calmed by the vivid blue cover of the book....It is true each found object carries with it an energy that adds to artwork..Each piece tells a story of its own...adding to the mystery, the layers....I see how this book on many different layers is of them being the diversity brought into the book from each artist..and the impact of the process will be lovely to share and it Seth...thanks!