13 in.H x 10 in.W x .5 in.D
Unique calligraphic manuscript book, from the Beautiul Mother series
This is a spacious picture book of three complementary texts, all to be spoken or read as litanies for Mother Earth. The texts are: on the recto pages, “We Have a Beautiful Mother” by Alice Walker, 1991, lettered in a humanist bookhand, used by permission; on the verso pages, “To Earth the Mother of All” from the Homeric Hymns in Hesiod’s Theogony, c. 700 BCE, translated from the Greek by Evelyn White, 1914, and lettered in a script devised by the artist inspired by Old European marks, c. 3000-5000 BCE; and in the round, a contemporary chant to Earth and the four elements sung in contemporary earthwise circles and sacred gatherings (the latter two texts are shown below).
Pages, covers and slipcase paste painted with acrylic and inks. Lettering in gouache and iridescent inks with broad-edged and ruling pens. Titles hand-lettered in acrylic and gouache. The paintings are marked with circular swashes and phrases, and include images of oceans, buffalo, and the earth Herself as a female from inner and outer space, painted on Arches Text Wove paper. Wraparound sempuyo cover of painted blue sphere arising from green ground into purple sky, evoking the sky as we also imagine the immense dark space we dwell in, on reinforced Arches Text Wove and lined with Japanese unruyu paper with gold and silver flecks. Bound by the artist in the Japanese nori-ire-gajo style. Enclosed in a painted light blue paper slipcase made from heavy Saunders Waterford hotpress watercolor paper.
I will sing of well-founded Earth, mother of all, eldest of all beings. She feeds all creatures that are in the world, all that go upon the goodly land, and all that are in the paths of the seas, and all that fly: all these are fed of her store. Through you, O Queen, men are blessed in their children and blessed in their harvests, and to you it belongs to give means of life to mortal men and to take it away. Happy is the man whom you delight to honour! He has all things abundantly: his fruitful land is laden with corn, his pastures are covered with cattle, and his house is filled with good things. Such men rule orderly in their cities of fair women: great riches and wealth follow them: their sons exult with ever-fresh delight, and their daughters in flower-laden bands play and skip merrily over the soft flowers of the field. Thus is it with those whom you honour O holy Goddess, bountiful spirit. Hail, Mother of the gods, wife of starry Heaven; freely bestow upon me for this my song substance that cheers the heart!
Earth my body
Water my blood
Air my breath
And fire my spirit
Blessed be the Earth
And all her children
Santa Clara University Special Collections, Santa Clara, California.