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January 15, 2014

I mailed my completed Sketchbook Project (2014) yesterday. It will be touring the Northeast, making stops in Brooklyn, NY; NYC; Philadelphia, PA; Portland, ME; and Toronto, Ontario.

This version really expanded my idea of what I could do within the confines of a sketchbook.

In 2011–12, I just did Abstract Expressionist-style sketches/drawings (which was actually a conceptual breakthrough for me). In 2012–13, I manipulated the paper itself, using it as a proxy for fabric.

For 2013–14 (the current edition), I did more abstract sketches and collage. I folded and cut pages, creating fractal dimensionality. I experimented with erasures, inspired by poet Mary Ruefle. I copied (my) poems onto pages. I improvised 3 poems on the page, all of which had visual aspects, so that they were … (hybrid) poem-collages (?), poem-sketches (?).

I’d known since early 2013 that I wanted to somehow make my poems … more-than-2-dimensional, which could maybe be called “sculptural”(?).

I keep forgetting that, for fractally-dimensional projects, I become inspired by working directly with available materials, not by imagining with my mind’s eyes — when my actual fingers get involved, they seed the imagination of my mind’s fingers.

In other words, trying to figure out ahead of time what I might end up creating is pointless. I need to jump right in, and start fiddling around.

The 2014 Sketchbook Project got me started combining dimensionality with poems, but I was surprised by visual elements incorporated into poems. One poem, in fact, is all visual — there is (meaningful) text, but some of the words are in hand-drawn typography (not just handwriting), they follow curves, and there is an actual sketch connected … somehow.

That poem is clearly about something much more complicated than just the apparent subject matter. And I really love how it turned out, even though I don’t understand why it took the form it did.

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This edition of a Sketchbook Project contains the first tangible and lasting examples of my conceptual art that other people might see. I’ve previously done preliminary sketches (a lot less complicated than any of these!) that only Spouse may have seen. I’ve also done paper-sculpture-y things that Spouse used as props in photo sessions, but most were not designed for permanence.

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Having this dialogue with myself, and then sending it out into the world, was satisfying in a creating-art way. More than that, though, it made me realize how essential-to-my-life-satisfaction actually following these impulses — no matter how outlandish they seem — is. Now that there is an actual dialogue with my conscious mind and my unconscious bodymind, plus other aspects of my selves that I can’t (necessarily) define, I need to keep this momentum going.

The other years, I was content to let this sort of energy dissipate in between formal-projects-with-sketchbooks. Today/right now, I need to do things differently.

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