This is the earliest artwork on the site. In a graduate course I created and taught in 2001 (“Literary/Visual Texts”), where we considered artists’ use of language and poets who worked with visual materials, students were to create a “book” that could look nothing like a conventional book.* A firm believer in professors always doing the assignments they ask of their students, I created my first book/box at the time (“First Book: Hudson River, Albany”).
The making of these boxes coincided with a period where I was obsessed with Joseph Cornell’s work (still am), and many are obviously praise poems to him. But during this period I also became more self-aware of my fascination with various themes—Fourier’s utopian fantasies, the music of the spheres, the hollow earth mythos, etc.—that would manifest in later projects.
(These boxes, and pretty much all the work archived on this site, reflect my commitment to arts-based research, practice as research, research-creation, and their various cousins. Over time the making of art, like therapy, reveals predilections and impulses percolating within a person that might not otherwise become apparent. Done over time and in a sustained manner, the act of making is a form of physical, mental, and maybe even spiritual spelunking.)
(For any interested, images of student work from this course are in my chapter in Joan Retallack & Julian Spahr’s Poetry and Pedagogy: The Challenge of the Contemporary.)