Monday, March 19, 2012

The Freedom Journal

While at the CAJM conference I became aware of a project sponsored by the Janice Charach Gallery in Michigan.  The project is called the 100 Journal project and is designed to bring together a loose network of artists around creating artist books on a variety of common themes.  The books may include writing, painting or whatever is permitted within the rules created by the first artist.  The first artist determines the theme and any rules and then does the cover and one page.  Subsequent artists do one or two pages each.  Ultimately the journals are exhibited and sold with proceeds going to charity.

I began to brainstorm some possible topics for a journal with a friend and we concluded that the theme of freedom would be a broad and topical subject.  With freedom as my theme it didn’t seem appropriate to establish rules.  A desire for freedom as well as its oppositional forces is especially present in our world today.  It is embodied in the Arab Spring, in women seeking control of their bodies and in gays seeking the freedom to marry.  In these very political times, we see a rising resistance to freedom. It is perhaps a last gasp as the next generation has incorporated a much more open world view than that which is being fought for so strenuously through constitutional amendments and restrictive laws.

Each project is an opportunity to experiment with new approaches.  In this effort I used medium generously to build up the ocean and desert as I sought to capture the idea of freedom embodied in the Israelites’ crossing of the Red Sea and the desert.  It is a passageway, a process, and yet crossing the passage is only the beginning.  The resignation of leadership in Arab countries only set the stage for a multitude of possibilities.  Whether they ultimately resemble freedom will remain to be seen.  The reality is that freedom is forged through challenge.  In the case of the Israelites they had a forty year sojourn in the desert where they faced challenges and stresses that tested and defined the scope of that freedom.  Sometimes an earlier generation is ill equipped to embrace freedom and it is left to subsequent generations to approach it without the encumbrances of old beliefs.  This too occurred with the Israelites as those who were afraid of change dissented and clung to old ways.  They ultimately were forced to stay behind while the next generation moved forward.

Tomorrow I send the book off to the next artist in St. Louis.  If you are interested in participating in this book, please contact me.

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