Yesterday’s Book Arts Jam at Foothill College was an exhilarating, exciting experience, even exhausting. For artists who by nature and necessity create in isolation, participating in a show like this is an incredible energy bolt. A passing student photographer offered to take this one with my own camera, so even I can see how lit up I am from the blast of interaction with my creations.
Some of the interaction included dollars, which are always welcome, but harder to quantify and strangely more satisfying is to watch people approach the work, move in to handle it (at my express invitation), read, fold and unfold, open, close, like or are indifferent to the book. It is all an education to me. I learn so much by watching how people are with my books that this is worth the price of admission. I have been doing this show for ten years now. The first year I may have manged to get my 13 Goddesses book out, but sold my greeting cards, collages and prints. Calligraphy in itself is a book art so I was accepted to the show. Then I decided I needed to have more actual books on my table, and so began my transformation from a jobbing calligrapher to doing the art of my heart and putting it into book forms. My hair has turned from light brown to silver in those years, and the imperative to follow my bliss has been strong.
This year I only took the limited edition books and some prints, knowing that people are feeling the economic pinch. The new edition Bequeathe Love is only priced at $55, the lowest it will ever be if I take it into subsequent printings. On the other hand, the older and almost sold-out The First Writing will probably rise in price as I enter the last ten in the edition which will be any day now. The truth is, I do all of this work for love, and I can never put a price on the actual time that goes into the making, but if I feel it is important to go out into the world I will try and put a price on it that will help it to travel out.
I have friends now who have been coming to see me at this show for years now, and I am so happy to see these faithful supporters. Seeing my artist friends and their work is also wonderful as we have been traveling this art road side by side for many years. Feeling those connections is nourishing, seeing the intersections of what we are working with (another book made to honor someone’s passing, another book using a poem by Walt Whitman) is satisfying and validating. We always hope the books we make will affect or move the reader/viewer; if we witness tears then we know we’ve done our job well. It’s the reaching out and making a connection that’s the real reason we make books. We are privileged when we see it happen, though it often happens in solitude. Books are like a small private room we enter in to, and sometimes the room is deep in the recesses of the human heart.