We have no snow in the Twin Cities. We have frozen mud. But it’s still very winter-romantic: lights still up, juniper berries, Orion and Gemini together in the east, and I bought hand-rolled butter the size of a loaf of bread. And messy, delicious blood oranges. Winter’s alright.
One of my goals for this year was to take all the notes and drawings I’d collected over 2014 and actually do the projects I’d intended to do last year. And by projects, I mean things that bring together text and visual art and whatever else they need to tell a story or communicate an idea. They’re all combinations of text and art and some web design, and I’ll be doing one per month with not too much initial judgment.
My January project was something that had been living in my head for about six months. I’d researched the story of Sodom and Gomorrah for this essay about Hamburg (the firebombing of Hamburg was referred to as “Operation Gomorrah” by the Allied forces), and I was intrigued by archaeological research at Tel Aviv University that suggested the story developed as people journeyed past destroyed cities in the Levant. In other words, the Levant of the time was subject to many earthquakes, and if you were a traveler (by lifestyle or by cataclysm of your own), you were constantly walking past ruins of other cities. Instead of making up tales of comfort, people started crafting these bizarre, violent stories – nightmares they made to stand in front of nightmares for which they had no words.
The project draws on this idea, and it’s also a funny urban history of Saint Paul and of all cities that have inexplicable layers and ghosts. And because I’m annoying myself now with the word “project,” it’s also a little book: about 40 pages of text facing photos of downtown Saint Paul. I’m going to submit it to a couple of places, but I hope to share pieces of how I made it and how it’s structured.
My February project is to write the text (all currently in my head) that goes with the 125 hearts I made last summer, finish the sizing of the original scans, and do some Illustrator work so that each original image will be one of a set of triplets. And then…I don’t know! I’ll be posting as I go, I hope, so I can share how the process is working.
In other news, my last day at my job (for 8 years!) is at the end of the month. It’s partly due to current lack of funding, but also was mostly my decision and is a good thing. I’m really happy about being able to write and teach more and excited about new opportunities.