Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Academe Obscure, Don't Judge

Don't Judge a book by its cover, goes the saying...I made this book for the Academe Obscure gallery showing at the Tacoma Arts Center.

The picture inside is of the of one of the most hideously deformed men ever documented and pictured: Joseph Merrick, more popularly known as The Elephant Man.

How quick we are too look at him in revulsion, yet for the grotesquerie that was his outer form, inside he was a very kind and polite man. He loved poetry and crafted spectacular paper models with his one good hand.

I made this book to demonstrate how easily we write-off that which at first appears as nothing more than a trash heap. Scraps and used parts, torn apart and beaten can yet yield a strangely unique beauty.

This book has been completely hand bound. The cover has been made using old shopping bags, scrap leather and various tidbits of what would otherwise qualify as garbage. In this case, used as camouflage to demonstrate the beauty that would be thrown out if one didn’t take the time to look within or beyond the superficial exterior.

Inside, the book consists of 156 beautiful pages of coffee-leaf recycled paper. The inner cover has been lined with a fine pearlized paper and trimmed with fancy printed satin ribbon.

A poem oft quoted by Merrick is centered opposite the title page, with a hand embossed name plate.

The back cover contains a picture of the physician who befriended Joseph and was responsible for seeing to it that he lived at least somewhat comfortably in the hospital. How ironic that he should be such a handsome man.

The envelope contains a quote from Dr. Treves about Merrick which perhaps summarizes the tragedy of why we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.
"One thing that always struck me as sad about Merrick was the fact that he could not smile. Whatever his delight may be, his face remained expressionless. He could weep, but he could not smile."
~Dr. Frederick Treves

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