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Quotation of Books
The Other Book, Cleveland State University Art Gallery
Cleveland, Ohio, March 5–April 3, 1999

In a number of recent works I have arranged quantities of ordinary objects in a mosaic-like fashion in order to form words, phrases, or quotations. For example, one project involved the use of 9000 business cards to spell out a quotation from the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius regarding the ultimate futility of earthly endeavors as exemplified by the standard business card. In these works it is my intention to create a meaningful relationship between the physical objects and the word, phrase, or sentence formed by them.

For Quotation of Books I borrowed a quotation about reading from C.S. Lewis that stated "We read to know we are not alone." The idea followed the realization that, by shelving books of various shapes and sizes with the spine pointing outward to create the figure and the pages pointing outward to form the ground, letters, words and, ultimately, sentences could be constructed. The project, which was installed in the stacks of the Ned R. McWherter Library at The University of Memphis, consisted of approximately 4000 volumes borrowed from the library's inventory of outdated materials.

With that work my intention was to surprise and delight the reader in each of us. Imagine walking through the stacks of a library and coming upon this unexpected message, as if the books themselves were speaking. Would this not create the potential for an incorporeal camaraderie similar to the relationship between writer and reader suggested by Lewis?

Since the completion of that project I have considered variants on Quotation of Books. My collection of quotes suggests the possibility of matching volumes of like subject matter–art, gardening, history, etc.–with a quotation germane to the field or topic covered in the books. For example, a personal favorite from Ralph Waldo Emerson–"Good men must not obey the law too well"–could be built of law books.