On June 22, 2011, the Souris River ravaged Minot, North Dakota. Forcing its way through homes, it seized thousands of precious items carrying them to new resting places. Foremost among the displaced were hundreds, possibly thousands, of books. Strewn in trees, across roadways, along railroad tracks . . . these books were pilfered from shelves, floated through broken windows, and recklessly abandoned to fend the natural elements. These books were vessels - surrogates of human soul, these shelters - housing our heritage - displaced, now driven over by boomtown commuters and shredded by oil tankers from the Bakken oil fields. It was this surreal situation that stirred me to alter the fate of these books.
When I was a child, my parents instilled in me a reverence for books. Books were not to be stepped on, sat upon or abused, because they contained something mysterious and powerful. Beyond their mere, physical composition of wood fibers and ink, they played some indispensable role that demanded respect and preservation. In a magical way, they were carriers of that which was irreplaceable; they housed an intellect, a unique soul. None was more protected than the Holy Bible and to cause damage to its substance was to denigrate its message. In our home, books were elevated in the hierarchy of objects; in their nature, deemed closer to humans than furniture, knickknacks, or clothing. Under these impressions I was forced into this relationship with displaced books.
I’ve now spent over two years with these books: spring, summer, fall, winter, night, day, wind, rain, dust, snow, dew, nests, eggs, webs, sprouts, sticks, leaves, ice, snow, bulldozers, trains, trucks, duck weed, worms, spiders, birds, muskrats . . . they are becoming homes to animals, analogies for excess, progress, and harbingers of the encroaching digital age. Over days, weeks and months, they have persuaded me to tell their story: a story of necessity, ignorance, loss and valediction.
The inaugural exhibition in The Art Makers series, spotlighting regional artists making new bodies of work.
Underwritten by William Wosick
We strengthen the creative capacity of North Dakota for all who live or visit here: honoring our cultural traditions, empowering excellence and innovation, inspiring arts and culture opportunities for all.
1600 East Century Avenue, Suite 6
Bismarck, ND 58503-0649
(701) 328-7595 (Fax)
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Closed on National Holidays