life under glass

Archive for September 2009

Angels and Devils

People are surprised when they hear that I grew up in Houston, Texas. The stereotype of a brash, potato-faced, shit-disturber doesn’t fit me in any way, shape, or form. But it doesn’t fit most of the people I know from Texas either–even those self-identified as cowpokes.

I spent a lot of time in and around Austin, especially as a teenager. I would go to Austin for weekends, stay with friends, and explore being a restless young person who was, otherwise, bored and frustrated with life at home. South Congress Avenue was the edge of my universe. I remember it mostly as a rough, no-income neighborhood brimming with mechanic shops, bodegas, auto detailers, storefront notaries with brown wallpaper, and the Continental Club where Roky Erikson of the 13th Floor Elevators used to play.

In April, I went to Austin with my husband and son for spring break, to visit family and swim in Barton Springs. South Congress  Avenue has been transformed.  Man, it looks like LA! Bright stucco storefronts, vaudeville decor, gothic curiosities, milagro-studded signage, vintage tiled doorways …. a cornucopia of DIY enterprise punctuated with taquerias, irony, and orange cowboy boots. 

It was worth a trip just for the inspired window displays.


Written by ephemerarium

September 13, 2009 at 4:11 pm

Posted in Musee Miniscule

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Recitation I



























Recitation I (2009) 40.5×29.5 inches. Gold leaf on book pages.

Quran means recitation. For Muslims, it is a sacred book and a pure embodiment of Mohammad’s message. It is also a vehicle for devotion and, as such, has been a focus for artistic embellishment through the centuries. Exquisite calligraphy is the most prominent feature of hand-crafted Qurans. Some are illuminated with gold leaf and are bound in covers made from tooled leather or painted cloth. Elaborate border ornamentation, Moorish stars, and other motifs are common. Even cheap, mass produced volumes printed on newsprint are carefully designed with ornamental borders and fancy flourishes–all signifying the beauty of its manifestation.

Recitation is fundamental to the Quran’s reception. As in Judaism, the distance between the book and message is the voice of the reader reciting. Jews murmur their sacred texts to themselves, Muslims recite them to an audience. In encourgae proper recitation, some Qurans are embellished with instructive markers for breathing that say: at this point take a breath and then continue. This creates a kind of cadence in the language which is, in part, why Quranic recitation sounds so musical. Breathing markers can be printed embellishments or gold leaf dots or other signs.

In this series, I used circles of gold leaf to create a breathing rhythm over the text. In Recitation I, breathing is playful and erratic,  creating an uneven symphony of intakes and exhalations.



Written by ephemerarium

September 8, 2009 at 4:55 pm

Posted in Art work

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