A Community Artist Book

I have this wall

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Where I can do what I want, as long as it’s art, and I want to use it to teach you about book art. A solid definition is kind of hard to pin down, but book art is when an artist gives you something and says, “This is a book,” and you let that inform the way you interact with it. That’s what I do. But when it looks like art, music, literature, architecture, and even basic humanity mean nothing to those who run the world—when our leaders use fear to blackmail the entire human race—what book should I write?

Nothing I say will bring peace to the world, end poverty, clean the environment, supply potable water, or cure disease. But I do have stories I’m compelled to tell, and those stories are about you. You are a person I love. I don’t know who you are, but I can imagine you as you stand here reading my words. That’s what community is. It’s love for people you don’t know. Feeling people’s presence even when they are absent is the basis for community.

You are not the same person I am, and I delight in our differences. I have so much to learn from you. You might make me feel uncomfortable with how different you are, but the exercise for my imagination, in considering what would not normally occur to me, is one I welcome. When the false assumption that differences undermine stability and strength takes hold, community becomes exclusive and defensive. “Us” becomes a much smaller group, and empathy is only allowed within its limits.

I want to expand my definition of the communities to which I belong, and feel empathy with every person on this planet. As the Ubuntu philosophy says, “We are because you are, and since you are, I am.”

So this is not a book I write, but a book we write. Because if we aren’t here for each other, what are we here for?

How can you contribute your story?

Please write a little about people whose presence you have felt in absence. You might have good feelings or bad feelings, but tell us—me and anyone else who has stood here—what made you think of them. Roll your story up and place it on the matrix according to whether it is a story about light or darkness, division or inclusion.*

Helpful Definitions

Light

  1. the agent that stimulates sight and makes things visible

  2. understanding of a problem or mystery; enlightenment

Darkness

  1. the partial or total absence of light

  2. the quality of being dark in color

  3. secrecy or mystery

Division

  1. the action of separating something into parts, or the process of being separated

  2. disagreement between two or more groups

Inclusion

  1. the action or state of including or of being included within a group or structure

  2. a body or particle recognizably distinct from the substance in which it is embedded

Note: these are not necessarily positive or negative. Darkness can mean rest, and you can divide curtains to let light in.

*This is the original essay that is beside the book on the outside wall of Editions. If you would like to contribute from afar, send your story to me in the mail and tell me where you would like me to place it on the matrix. 

Editions

6520 5th Avenue South #114

Seattle, WA 98108