Michelle Ray, 2012-2013 Resident Artist

2012-2013 SCAP Resident Artist

I approach creating artists’ books in the manner of a Victorian naturalist: by attempting to name the unnamed and gain an understanding of the world through documenting, cataloging and connecting ideas.

My work explores a range of topics including systems of thought associated with document collections, natural history artifacts and the rituals of organization. My artists’ books are artificially constructed archives; they are documentary objects created in the context of becoming the very thing they document. The book, with all of the assumptions about its interface, has the power to act as a tool of cultural record and can retroactively construct and validate narratives.

My approach to language, namely labels, focuses on creating important connections between myself and the things in my world; language externalizes the interior life. In my books, cataloging and taxonomy manifest themselves as textual ritual used to aid the viewer in better situating her/his self in the world. I am fascinated with lists, categories and collections and believe that my books are objects that bring order to those things that are least easily ordered.

I rely on elements inherent in the book format such as temporality, tactility and intimacy to explore my narratives. Paying homage to the tradition of the book is imperative in my work and traditional materials and processes are part of the ritualistic underpinnings that support my work’s connection to the larger world.

 

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