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A Surfing Book Artists' Statement for Museum Show
March 27 - July 25, 2010
As a surfer and an artist it was natural for me to be drawn to collecting wooden shoes. Wooden shoes are like waves. Wooden shoes are like little boats, like the balsa board I surfed as a child. The shape, an inverted arabesque, a curve that comes to a point, is a simple and compelling form.
Surfing and collecting are not as different as one might first imagine: The surfer watches at the ocean searching for waves. The collector searches flea markets and antique stores watching for what they collect. The surfer marvels at the varied forms a wave can take, the collector at the variations in a certain object. Surfers and collectors alike find a thrill in the activity: the surfer’s “stoke” and the collector’s “find”.
I collect oddball things. Ukuleles, match books, printed wooden coat hangers. I got my first pair of wooden shoes in Holland, in 1967, when my family was camping through Europe. I even carved my own miniature pair of wooden shoes on that trip. Wooden shoes were originally made as pre-rubber waterproof shoes. In France they were called “sabots”, and the word “sabotage” is derived from the actions of French peasants during the industrial revolution who threw their shoes in the gears of some machine to stop it from taking their jobs.
My art is making books. I make paper. I compose word and image on pages. I bind them together as books. I like to make books out of things. Ukuleles, accordions, cameras… the aesthetic challenge is to marry form with content. I remember a fairy tale my mother read to me as a child. It was about a simpleton servant on a quest to save his princess. He found a pair of magical wooden shoes that took him across the ocean to fight the dragon. As a child I wanted to figure out a way to sail across the water on my wooden shoes. Now as a book artist I want to figure out a way to use these wooden shoes for the covers of a book. Maybe I will when this show is over.
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