Tory’s Book Stacks

The Establishment Man
how DO you become a witch?
The Mother In Law

For my book stacks, I wanted to play around with themes and narratives.

I think the first stack combines themes of toxic masculinity with American culture. I was inspired by Trump’s attitude and tone when speaking to the American people.

The second stack was simply the combination of spooky creatures (witches and vampires). The witch book is actually about practicing Wicca, while the vampire book is a fictional novel. I wanted to combine the real spiritual practice with the horrors people think of when they hear “witch”. I also think its formed a fun answer to the question presented in the witch book.

The final stack was intended to be funny. I Think many of us know a mother in law who gives someone anxiety. I liked the phrasing of “my age of anxiety” after “THE MOTHER IN LAW”. It seems like she IS the age of anxiety.


Book Stacks

Katchadorian specifically with their work on the series ‘Sorted Books’, gives new perspective and meaning to books, without any kind of description with the content inside them. Additionally, the series tells a story with multiple books, making the viewer almost no longer consider their individual contents anymore. Dymants work with his piece ‘One Billion Years’ used a similar approach, where the meaning of the work was not found in each individual book, but in the collection as a whole. Although the concept of both these works is very similar, as well as the execution being very similar, they give off completely different conclusions to each piece. Katchadorian uses the titles to write very short, poetic stories, that are worded in a somewhat choppy way, but still make sense, and flow nicely. Whereas Dymants tells a continuous, less poetic story over the past as well as the future, using book titles which are seemingly unrelated, but somehow connected and relevant, and keep track of time.

I took an approach similar to that of Katchadorian’s book stacks, making the title of the books create somewhat of a narrative between the books. To create this, I took all of the books I could find in my house and laid them out on the floor so I could see all of the titles. My library consisted of books I have used for classes over the past three years, as well as books I moved out of my childhood home with because I have an emotional connection to them, as well as books that I use for personal reference.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is IMG_3233.jpeg
Stars, Planets, and Galaxies, Nightmares in the sky, Weirdos From Another Planet. It’s a Magical World.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is IMG_3232.jpeg
A Room with a View: The Golden Hour, Sun, Wind, and Light.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is IMG_3234.jpeg
The Politics of Hunger, The Neverending Story. We are all Completely Beside Ourselves.

Week 2

SUMMARY OF WORK IN WEEK 2: (See details below)

  1. LOOK AT: Text as Art images, text and videos

2. WRITE: See reflection questions on text as art at the end.

  1. LOOK AT: Artists who use text in their work including: Yoko Ono, Jenny Holzer, John Baldessari, Barbara Krueger, Geurilla Girls, and Shelly Niro. And more contemporary examples including: Nadia Myre, Joi T. Arcand, Jon Rubin, Eleanor King, Micah Lexier, Lenka Clayton, Alisha Wormsley and Germaine Koh.

John Baldessari:

John Baldessari
I Will Not Make Any More Boring Art

In 1971, the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Halifax, invited John Baldessari to exhibit his work. However, the college did not have the funds for Baldessari to travel to Halifax, so the artist proposed that the art students in Halifax act as his surrogates. The students were instructed by Baldessari to write “I will not make any more boring art” on the gallery walls for the duration of the exhibition (April 1-10, 1971). By enlisting the art students to slavishly write the phrase over and over, Baldessari poked fun at the entire system of art education, which he felt encouraged students to imitate rather than experiment and innovate. The artist also sent along a handwritten page of the phrase, from which the students produced prints. After the work’s completion, Baldessari committed his own version of the piece to videotape. The subversive, graffiti-like action of drawing directly on the gallery walls reflected the artist’s dissatisfaction with the limitations of traditional painting in the early 1970s. His interest in language-based performative actions that could be realized by others was a hallmark of early conceptual art.  (From

From the exhibition Pure Beauty, works from the late 60’s.
John Baldessari, Tips for Artists Who Want to Sell, 1966-1968

By 1966, Baldessari was using photographs and text, or simply text, on canvas.[2] His early major works were canvas paintings that were empty but for painted statements derived from contemporary art theory. An early attempt of Baldessari’s included the hand-painted phrase “Suppose it is true after all? WHAT THEN?” (1967) on a heavily worked painted surface. However, this proved personally disappointing because the form and method conflicted with the objective use of language that he preferred to employ. Baldessari decided the solution was to remove his own hand from the construction of the image and to employ a commercial, lifeless style so that the text would impact the viewer without distractions. The words were then physically lettered by sign painters, in an unornamented black font. The first of this series presented the ironic statement “A TWO-DIMENSIONAL SURFACE WITHOUT ANY ARTICULATION IS A DEAD EXPERIENCE” (1967).”
Lenka Clayton, Fruit and Other Things, 2018
Fruit and Other Things
Collaboration with Jon Rubin / Carnegie International 57th Edition 2018, Carnegie Museum of Pittsburgh

Full Project Website

“From 1896 to 1931 the Carnegie International selected artworks for its exhibitions from an international competition. The museum kept meticulous records, not only of all the works accepted, but of those rejected as well. Only the title, artist’s names, and the year of each work were recorded, no images exist. Over this 35 year span, 10,632 artworks were rejected from the exhibitions. For the duration of the 57th Carnegie International, each of the 10,632 rejected titles were made into individual hand-lettered text paintings. Each text painting was exhibited for a day, and then given away to visitors.”

Text and image:
Germaine Koh, Dear Mercer, 2006
“A form letter in various formats, used as my participation in fundraising events.
unlimited series”

text and image:
YOKO ONO, Grapefruit, 1964
Conversation Piece, an event score from Grapefruit, 1964.

“Ono’s event scores were intended to replace a physical work of art with written instructions or suggestions for acts that the person experiencing them could create. Pulse Piece, for example, suggests, “Listen to each other’s pulse by putting your ear on the other’s stomach. 1963 Winter.” The activities usually highlight a simple day-to-day activity. Often considered a Fluxus work, Grapefruit has become a monument of conceptual art. The title comes from the way Ono felt about herself: a hybrid between American and Japanese identities, the way a grapefruit is a hybrid between a lemon and an orange.”

Text and Image:

Yoko Ono, FLY (1996), billboard installed in Richmond Virginia. Photo by Stephen Salpukas. Courtesy of Yoko Ono.
Composite of Yoko Ono’s billboards since the 1960’s.

Yoko Ono WAR IS OVER!, 2008-2009 IMAGINE PEACE in 24 languages Holiday Billboards Times Square, New York, NY Photo by: Karla Merrifield © Yoko Ono

Jenny Holzer, Truisms, 1980-

Holzer’s Truisms have become part of the public domain, displayed in storefronts, on outdoor walls and billboards, and in digital displays in museums, galleries, and other public places, such as Times Square in New York. Multitudes of people have seen them, read them, laughed at them, and been provoked by them. That is precisely the artist’s goal.

The Photostat, Truisms, seen here presents eighty-six of Holzer’s ongoing series of maxims. Variously insightful, aggressive, or comic, they express multiple viewpoints that the artist hopes will arouse a wide range of responses. A small selection of Truisms includes: “A lot of professionals are crackpots”; “Abuse of power comes as no surprise”; “Bad intentions can yield good results”; and “Categorizing fear is calming.”

Holzer began creating these works in 1977, when she was a student in an independent study program. She hand-typed numerous “one liners,” or Truisms, which she has likened, partly in jest, to a “Jenny Holzer’s Reader’s Digest version of Western and Eastern thought.” She typeset the sentences in alphabetical order and printed them inexpensively, using commercial printing processes. She then distributed the sheets at random and pasted them up as posters around the city. Her Truisms eventually adorned a variety of formats, including T-shirts and baseball caps. (From

Jenny Holzer, Survival Series, 1986

In the Survival Series, Holzer explores other methods of presentation. Survival Series (1983–1985), which warned about the dangers of everyday living, were blazoned on enormous electronic signboards in public spaces.


Barbara Kruger, Untitled (Your body is a battleground), 1989
“Much of Kruger’s work pairs found photographs with pithy and assertive text that challenges the viewer. Her method includes developing her ideas on a computer, later transferring the results (often billboard-sized) into images.[5] Examples of her instantly recognizable slogans read “I shop therefore I am,” and “Your body is a battleground,” appearing in her trademark white letters against a red background. Much of her text calls attention to ideas such as feminismconsumerism, and individual autonomy and desire, frequently appropriating images from mainstream magazines and using her bold phrases to frame them in a new context.
Kruger has said that “I work with pictures and words because they have the ability to determine who we are and who we aren’t.”[15] A larger category that threads through her work is the appropriation and alteration of existing images. In describing her use of appropriation, Kruger states:
Pictures and words seem to become the rallying points for certain assumptions. There are assumptions of truth and falsity and I guess the narratives of falsity are called fictions. I replicate certain words and watch them stray from or coincide with the notions of fact and fiction.[16]

Image and Text:
Untitled (I Shop Therefore I Am), 1987
Part of an initiative to bring art to new sites within and around the building, this installation by Barbara Kruger fills the Lower Level lobby and extends into the newly relocated Museum bookstore. Famous for her incisive photomontages, Kruger has focused increasingly over the past two decades on creating environments that surround the viewer with language. The entire space—walls, floor, escalator sides—is wrapped in text-printed vinyl, immersing visitors in a spectacular hall of voices, where words either crafted by the artist or borrowed from the popular lexicon address conflicting perceptions of democracy, power, and belief.

At a moment when ideological certitude and purity seem especially valued, Kruger says she’s “interested in introducing doubt.” Large areas of the installation are devoted to open-ended questions (“WHO IS BEYOND THE LAW? WHO IS FREE TO CHOOSE? WHO SPEAKS? WHO IS SILENT?”), while the section occupying the bookstore explores themes of desire and consumption. At once addressing the individual, the museum, and, symbolically, the country, Kruger’s penetrating examination of the public sphere transforms one of the Hirshhorn’s key public spaces.

Text + Image:
Guerrilla Girls, Guerrilla Girls Definition Of A Hypocrite, 1990
“The anonymous collective Guerilla Girls fits into a rich tradition of protest artists who employ words for explicitly political ends. In particular, the group uses language to reconsider gender discrimination and violence. “What do these men have in common?” one of their 1995 posters asks. Below the bold black wording, photographs of O.J. Simpson and minimalist artist Carl Andre
 appear. The answer to their provocation? The state accused both men of murdering women (Simpson: his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson; Andre: his wife Ana Mendieta). Both enjoyed acquittals and avoided jail time. The Guerilla Girls discuss the prevalence of domestic violence beneath the pictures. They also include a tagline at the bottom: “A public service message from Guerilla Girls conscience of the art world.”
Another famous work, Do Women Have to Be Naked to Get Into the Met Museum? (1989), critiques the lack of art by female practitioners in major institutions. Across the Guerilla Girls’s oeuvre, wry ideology becomes an art form. Their messaging—and its situation within the institutions it critiques—supersedes all other aesthetic concerns.”

Image and Text:
Recent project by the Geurilla Girls at MOMA, 2020 See their website for ongoing activities

Pluralism, Deborah Roberts, 2016

Roberts identifies dozens of Black names that Microsoft Word identifies as misspelled. Series of prints.

Shelley Niro, The Shirt (detail), 2003
Shelley Niro, The Shirt (detail), 2003.____ Uploaded by: Whyte, Murray

“In “The Shirt” – a video that debuted at the 2003 Venice Biennale – Kanien’kehaka (Mohawk) artist and director Shelley Niro parodies the archetypal tourist tee-shirt from the point of view of First Nations Peoples as an exploration into the lasting effects of European colonialism in North America. Facing the camera directly and poised against the landscape of “America”, an Aboriginal woman with biker-like accessories bears a sequential series of statements on her tee-shirt that together comprise a discourse on colonialism. The darkly ironic and yet brutally truthful messages of “The Shirt” draw attention to the history of invasion that indigenous peoples have experienced in North America. By presenting the tee-shirts as souvenirs and memories of these impositions, Niro’s work suggests that the consequences of colonialism are still active today. The Shirt is an ironic and humorous take on colonialism enacted through text on T-shirts worn by an Aboriginal woman (artist Hulleah Tsinhnahjinnie). Directly facing the camera with the landscape of “America” as a backdrop, the woman poses in shirts that bear a sequential series of statements that together comprise a discourse on North America’s troubled past.”

Joi T. Arcand, Northern Pawn, South Vietnam, 2009
Joi T. Arcand is a photo-based artist and industrial sculptor from Muskeg Lake Cree Nation, and she knows that words, that letter forms, shapes and glyphs, “change the visual landscape,” that they are how we go about practicing new ways of looking. Words are emotional architectures, and Arcand calls hers “Future Earth.”

Here on Future Earth is a series of photographs that Arcand produced in 2010. In a phone interview, Arcand explained to me that this is where her photo-based practice and her interest in textuality synched. Arcand wants us to think about these photographs as documents of “an alternative present,” of a future that is within arm’s reach.

For this series, Arcand manipulated signs and replaced their slogans and names with Cree syllabics. By doing this, Arcand images something of a present beside itself and therefore loops us into a new mode of perception, one that enables us to attune to the rogue possibilities bubbling up in the thick ordinariness of everyday life. Arcand wanted to see things “where they weren’t.”

Hers is not a utopian elsewhere we need to map out via an ethos of discovery. Rather, Arcand straddles the threshold of radical hope. She asks us to orient ourselves to the world as if we were out to document or to think back on a future past. That is, Arcand rendered these photographs with a pink hue and a thick, round border, tapping into what she calls “the signifiers of nostalgia.” Importantly, these signifiers are inextricably bound to the charisma of words, to the emotional life of the syllabics. The syllabics are what enunciate; they potentiate a performance of world-making that does not belong to the mise-en-scene of settlement.”

Text and Image:
Joi T. Arcand, Amber Motors, 2009

Nadia Myre, Indian Act, 2002
“Indian Act speaks of the realities of colonization – the effects of contact, and its often-broken and untranslated contracts. The piece consists of all 56 pages of the Federal Government’s Indian Act mounted on stroud cloth and sewn over with red and white glass beads. Each word is replaced with white beads sewn into the document; the red beads replace the negative space.
Between 1999 and 2002, Nadia Myre enlisted over 230 friends, colleagues and strangers to help her bead over the Indian Act. With the help of Rhonda Meier, they organized workshops and presentations at Concordia University, and hosted weekly beading bees at Oboro Gallery, where it was presented as part of the exhibition, Cont[r]act, in 2002.”

Text and image:

Eleanor King, No Justice No Peace, 2015
Latex Paint on Wall, 80FT x 12FT
The Peekskill Project, Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art

Jon Rubin, The Last Billboard, 2010-2018
Above Text by Alisha Wormsley

“Founded in 2010, The Last Billboard was a 36 foot long rooftop billboard located on the corner of Highland and Baum in Pittsburgh, PA, USA. Each month a different artist was invited to use the billboard. The custom designed billboard consisted of a rail system with wooden letters that were changed by hand.

The Last Billboard ended operations in April, 2018 after artist Alisha Wormsley’s text was removed from the billboard by the property’s landlord under pressure from area developers. “

Image and text:
Kameelah Janan Rasheed, Are We There Yet? (and other questions of proximity,destination, and relative comfort), 2017
Kameelah Janan Rasheed, A QUESTION IS A SENTENCE DESIGNED TO ELICIT A RESPONSE. TODAY, WE WANT TO KNOW WHAT THE SLOPPY FUTURE HOLDS (detail), 2018. Installed and on view at the Brooklyn Museum

2. WRITE: Select TWO artworks from above to write about. Compare and contrast the different ways the artists use media (materials, platform, format) to express their message. How is the medium relevant to the message in each case? How are viewers expected to relate to the text in each case? (Write approx. 250 words).

Madeline’s Work

Week 1 Notes

Katchadourian prefers to have minimal prior knowledge on the collection she will be sorting, and lets the collection speak for itself and its owner. She sorts through titles looking for ones that are eye catching or repetitive. She often prints out copies of selected titles and sort and organize them in her studio prior to the real library. This was seen in her project “Once Upon a Time in Delaware/ In Quest of the Perfect Book”. Completed in 2010 as part of the sorted book project the books were part of a 2000 piece collection consisting of books chosen based solely off their book cover created within the 1918 to 1920. The titles chosen created a portrait of the innovative, adventurous, romantic mindset of America at the time. Katchadourin and Dyment use similar methods when creating their works. They both aim to create a new narrative between the book titles, independent from their content. The stacks are a representation of the collection as a whole. This can be seen in Dyments work “One billion years (Past and Future). The books independently cover a short period of time or are a moment representing a period of time, but collectively show time a billion years in the past an future.

My books are a selection from an old bookshelf in my basement. The bookshelf is used by my entire family, but the majority of its contents belong to my Mom and I. Initially I sorted through the bookshelf looking for titles that might work together and took a smaller selection upstairs to try different combinations. Like Katchadourian I wanted to convey a story between the chosen titles. For the last stack of books, I took into consideration how the first title is blurry, hoping to add a deeper level to the story. The final works display a love of crime and political novels, which is something my mom and I bond over.

Week 2 Writing

The works I have chosen to compare are Shelley Niro’s “The Shirt (detail)”, 2003, and Nadia More’s “Indian Act”, 2002. The artists are both indigenous women who aim to highlight the dark realities of colonialism. The sentiments behind their artworks are similar but the their ideas are presented in vastly different mediums. 

Shelly Niro’s “The Shirt (detail)” is a series of images of an indigenous artist standing in front of a picturesque American landscape wearing a tee-shirt stating “my ancestors were annihilated, exterminated, murdered and massacred … And all’s I get is this shirt”.  The shirt was inexpensive and labelled an “archetypal tourist tee-shirt”. Overall the artwork demonstrates how indigenous lives were sacrificed for trivial objects and consumerist greed. 

On the other hand, Nadia More’s “Indian Act” has similar sentiment but a much more time consuming medium. Nadia and over 230 volunteers stitched over the Federal Governments Indian Act, replacing words with white beads and spaces with red beads. The overall effect leaves the fewer unable to read the words, just like reading an untranslated contract.  

The message behind both artworks come across strongly and are highly impactful. 

When reading the article “Dirty Words” the sentence “Desire is thwarted by a series of logistical and moral obligations” really caught my eye. It hit home for me in many ways and I found it to be relatable in many aspects of my life. I hung my banner above a bed and had the bed frame peeking into the photo. In this context its representing a loss of love or passion in a relationship. However, I think the banner would hang well in many locations, whether it be in front of unfinished schoolwork, unfinished home renovations, or a list of good intentions. 

We all have things we desire to do or things we desire to happen, and it is hard when you realize not everything you desire is actually going to work out. Even in regards to making the banner, my original idea was to paint every letter by hand. This ended up being highly time-consuming and logistically I had to change to large Sharpie. Eventually, I let the dark letters fade out to visually represent the lessening of desire. 

Week 4 – Moving Portraits

I was able to take these videos behind the scenes at one of Fashion Art Toronto’s virtual runways. It was interesting to see how people interact and work with one another within the new limitations imposed due to the pandemic.  

“Just being away from other people and everything I have been able to focus on myself I have become so much more confident and self-aware” – Lauren (Model, Right)

“Ya no my anxiety has been through the roof I feel trapped with it. This is the first time I’ve been out in the open and stuff” – Michaela (Model, Left)

I asked the hair and makeup team how the pandemic has affected their work.

“(Its) affected us in a way where we can’t work from home with this kind of job and it’s been really hard, and learning how to be virtual, and having to be tech-savvy when we’re people who work with our hands I have found it has been very challenging. Just being the person in contact and being the person who works with somebody and not being at home, ya I am very happy to be back at work” – Antonella (Hair Stylist, Centre) 

“Likewise very excited to be back to work, and it is quite different how we are doing touchups without touching the person. So yeah everything is a new adventure now.” – Bindi (Makeup Artist, Left)

“It definitely forces us to become better artists with steadier hands” – Stephanie (Makeup Artist, Right)

Adad Hannah Questions

What kind of people does he observe? 

  • A wide range of individuals. Healthcare workers, painters, families, skateboarders, friends, protesters. 

How are they different from one another? 

  • Occupation, high vs low anxiety levels, physical appearance, age demographics, group size, ways of life. 

How do the portraits change over time? 

  • he admittedly started of scared and nervous but became bolder with every portrait. For example he started asking individuals to take photos in their homes. 

How do the portraits witness important moments of the pandemic? 

  • These portraits show that while we are collectively trying to maintain distance from one another we are still connected. We are able to see ourselves within the portraits as we are all feeling alone. 
  • The portraits are also capturing an important political moment through documentation of peaceful protesters. 

Contemporary Art and the Pandemic

An ongoing collection of works that speak to the historical moment – made in the past, or made today.

Marc Fisher, 2020. Printed card mailed to subscribers

Adad Hannah:

Social Distancing Portraits 2020

See the videos below on his Instagram page:

Maggie Groat:

Intervals project for Mercer Union:

Germaine Liu and Christopher Willes

Lou Sheppard – Murmurations

Benny Nemerofsky:


Week 1

Welcome back to school everyone, I’m very happy to have a way to come together to learn about contemporary experimental art practices. During the pandemic, we will engage in weekly exercises, demos, readings and videos to learn some of the historic, theoretical, and technical aspects of working in experimental media forms.

Our virtual course will emphasize ideas, research, regular exercises and practices, as opposed to more developed and resolved artworks.

Students will perform and create studio exercises at home and in the world – within strict adherence to public health guidelines at all times – using materials and situations at hand. Together we will practice being resourceful and creative within the limits of any given situation. We will explore how to be an artist now – using aspects of performance, snapshot photography, video, audio, and artist multiples – in this unique and challenging historical moment.

Every week on Tuesday morning, I will post a list of things to watch, and/or read, listen to, reflect on, and create. You will need approximately 4-6 hours to complete your work for this course every week.

Your work is due by the next week, Monday 10am. Schedule your work during class time and you will be able to keep up with your assignments! All your notes, images and videos must be on the class BLOG – under your name. ONLY edit your own page – do not edit anything else on the blog. I will periodically read and evaluate your work on the BLOG and we will occasionally look at examples of works by students together in our class HUDDLE.

See course information, and evaluation for details.


To be posted on your blog page by Tuesday Sept. 22.

LOOK AT: Nina Katchadourian’s Book Stacks projects

“The Sorted Books project began in 1993, and it has has taken place on many different sites over the years, ranging form private homes to specialized book collections. The process is the same in every case: I sort through a collection of books, pull particular titles, and eventually group the books into clusters so that the titles can be read in sequence. The final results are shown either as photographs of the book clusters or as the actual stacks themselves, often shown on the shelves of the library they came from. Taken as a whole, the clusters are a cross-section of that library’s holdings that reflect that particular library’s focus, idiosyncrasies, and inconsistencies. They sometimes also function as a portrait of the particular book owner. The Sorted Books project is an ongoing project which I add to almost each year, and there there are hundreds of images in the ongoing archive to date.”

Pictured above: What is Art?
C-prints, each 12.5 x 19 inches, 1996/2008
The series Sorting Shark from the Sorted Books project
Pictured above: A Day at the Beach
C-prints, each 12.5 x 19 inches, 2001

Read Katchadourian’s descriptions of the unique libraries she worked in to make the series Sorted Books.

The series Kansas Cut-Up from the Sorted Books project
Pictured above: Only Yesterday
C-prints, each 12.5 x 19 inches, 2014

Dave Dyment:

A collection of books pertaining to the past and future, arranged chronologically from One Billion Years Ago to The Next Billion Years.

Ryan Park:

Ryan Park, 2009, Untitled


Nina Katchadourian discusses a new Sorted Books project in William S Burroughs’ library. You will also be making three stack images, using your own or someone else’s personal library, to result in any surprising new meanings.

WRITE: What are some of the strategies Katchadourin, Dyment and Park used to select and order books in their final works? What were their decisions based on, and how do the final compositions expand the meaning of each individual book, or come together to have a new and surprising meaning about the library, the family, about language and books, or about anything else? Select two pieces to discuss.

MAKE: Make 3 of your own Sorted Books stack. Choose a personal library (or some other special library) you have access to now – it could be the books you have in your bedroom, the books at your parents house, the books at work, all the books of all your roommates etc. Create a composition, with as many books you need, and photograph it. It doesn’t have to be a “portrait” of the person whose library it is – look for concise messages, play with words and concepts, experiment with different titles in relation to one another in different ways. Include the images, a short description of your library, and your process of creating the compositions on your blog page.

Black Lives Matter: SCHOLAR STRIKE and more…

Black Lives Matter SCHOLAR STRIKE and more…

Hello Experimental Students,

I hope you are all safe and well, and I am looking forward to welcoming you back to school at our first official virtual class which will be TUESDAY Sept.  next week. Every week we will have synchronous – real time class HUDDLEs, on Tuesdays from 2:30 – 3:30, mark your calendars! See Course Link for links and details. 

But before that – I would like to you tune in to a very special program this week Wed Sept. 9 and Thurs. Sept. 10th called Scholar Strike. 

From the website:

Scholar Strike is a labour action/teach-in/social justice advocacy happening. Scholar Strike originated in the U.S from a tweet by Dr. Anthea Butler who, inspired by the striking WNBA and NBA players, put out a call for a similar labour action from academics.   The Canadian action is aligned with the one in the U.S., in its call for racial justice, an end to anti-Black police violence and it adds a specific focus on anti-Indigenous, colonial violence. 

Here is the full program of live discussions and lectures:

I strongly encourage you to tune in, to learn more about the Black Lives Matter movement, and think about ways we can personally, and collectively acknowledge and eliminate racism, inequality and injustice in our society.  

Listening to activists, artists, and other racialized authours like Ibram X. Kendi – have given me a lot to think about, especially about how we all have work to do to address our own racist biases, and to challenge racist ideas, and to actively work against racist policies and inequality in all aspects of public and personal life. 

From How to Be an Anti-Racist, Ibram X. Kendi

I strongly recommend you take the time to listen to this incredible podcast from CBC radio’s Out in the Open – Ibram X. Kendi’s conversation with Pia Chattopadhyay:

Have a listen to this and other crucial teach-ins this week – and see you all on Tuesday, Diane

More info coming soon, see you Tuesday!

Margaret’s Work


Reflection on in class videos

Out of the video presented to us during class and on WordPress I found the storytelling aspects of Rod, Bernie, Peggy and Aislinn to be the most intriguing.

Video, 2009
  • Last year in Sculpture 1, I was working on a project about Toronto/East York as a geographical location and how the Danforth and its decent into the Don Valley used to be just a large dirt hill. I had found old photographs posted on blogTO that had these wonderful scenes of what my part of Toronto looked like between 1908 and 1965.
danforth toronto
  • From these photographs, I dove deeper into my specific area and tried to find information about the Sammon (my street name) Farms and the Italian flower farmers who lived in the houses, mine included, that were rolled up from the Danforth from on logs with horses to make space for the building fo the Danforth.
  • This history of Toronto and my house included still sparks interest… I thought it would be a great story to tell while making something a cake or food with local ingredients.
  • My second train of thought after watching and listening was thinking about my grandmother. we have a tradition in our family to either make shortbread cookies or rum cake with Barbados rum, she lived there for over 25 years, and my mother/aunt lived in Jamaica and Guyana growing up, it has a special place in all of our hearts.

Proposal Ideas

  1. Retell the stories or a story from either the construction and neighbourhood building of Toronto or center the story around my family and baking of the cake/cookies.
  2. Reflection on my last video project, I liked the idea of telling a story not using my face, I want to push using different body parts such as my hands doing the mixing and rolling out of the materials. I mentioned in the reflection on the bread podcast that the instant part of instant yeast took away the work and effort it takes to bake, that the tradition of making bread in general is lost. I want to really focus on the effort of my hands and body.
  3. I will be using local ingredients and sourcing them from mom and pop stores not big grocery stores, other then the rum of course. I will be measuring tools but staying away from the metal and sticking to wood and painted ceramics.
  4. I hope to shoot using at least a couple different angles then edit together. The idea of wanting these baking moment to be collaborative and messy, I an hoping my mother will join me in this endeavor both using voice and her hands, and ending the assignment’s video with a short reaction from my grandmother (if she can figure out the technology).
  5. I love the tranquility of the story teller and the nicely framed shots with natural lighting. My video will surly have louder moments and laughter but I would like the video structure to be the same. Not only for this project but also for my wellbeing and building stronger relationships with my family, these moments/activity will bake more meaning to myself and hopefully the peers on my class.


  • Notes on Podcast – CBC | The Rise and Fall Bread & my own experiences: Bread is historical. The context of when, where and whom it’s made with is extremely important. How one makes the bread shows tradition, culture and technique that vary by geographical location and how much the ingredients were available.
    • While listening to the podcast I understood that for the first half they were talking about how to make bread and the different religions that used bread as a symbolic object for the sharing of christ, but I was more interested in when the narrator called it ‘the rise’ then its unleavened bread.
    • Similar to making any dish in the kitchen, bread is communal in its making and eating. When making a test loaf before class (Nov 13th – Picture of test loaf below), I still needed another set of eyes to read instructions and help hold the bowl then mixing the dough together.
    • At 16:10, a person is speaking about the meaning behind the ingredient, how yeast means patience, etc. For future bread, that I now know how to make, I think I will stay away from instant yeast. To really understand a material you need to put time and effort into its process, for this upcoming class and the bread loaf is something for us to share together but it does take away the meaning of the time and physical energy it takes to kneed with our hands and time to its and watch the yeast bloom, when connecting the ideas/activity back to the podcast.
    • I agree with the idea of leaving Eden and putting in work and effort, even when making bread and sourcing ingredients, takes work. Like taking the subway to find instant yeast or mixing in the till you arms hurt. Although it’s not the same as sourcing from raw material and grinding them to the right consistency, I would like to think all bakers, new and old have the same amount of concentration and attention put into the making.
    • A point that surprised me was the historical points made around 23:00, how women had more babies, due to a high infantile death rate- they would give the new babies bread to suck on for nutrients instead of milk so the women can have more children for the family. This story/fact is both understandable due to the it’s social and historical context, yet, just for a moment I got the feeling of, knowing more about the history as also made me want to know less, as a female myself… Just an interesting thought that came through while listening.
    • My favourite quote: “When you plunge your hands into the kneading trough, even if you are working with a machine, and you feel the flour around your fingertips, you commune with the flour, you- it has a sensuality a vivacity a viscerality.”
  • Before starting the podcast I really didn’t think much about the actual eating of bread. I just thought it was the moment around the event of dinner or buying freshly made that I liked so much. Although growing up there have been a couple of defining moments.
    • The church I grew up in we used the circular disk bread with an embossed cross symbol, until Father David decided to bake bread every Sunday morning before service. He knew that I really liked the recipe so much that he would save the crust for me. I was the only youth that attended the church at that time and someone had to eat them, waste not, want not. As I got older I did attend less due to school and extra curricular activities. I was saddened to find that after he retired, they stopped making his recipe. I guess after thinking about that fond memory of the person and the place I still call a second home, It’s not just just the experience I have in that location but the bread itself that I have ties to.
    • I was at camp, a music camp that I wasn’t very fond of but I developed a nice breakfast tradition by sitting with the pianist. He taught me that toast has to be perfect and should not sit on a plate when you take it out of the toaster. They need to breath and maintain a crispiness on both side, have then leaning on your salt shaker in the morning until you are ready to butter them. I still do this now and often remember his words.
    • As a child, even now, I have been very fond of Pea Soup, green or yellow, It was co commonality that with any heavier soup in the winter we would either have bread to help eat it with or make grilled cheese, I still find that without a starch some dinners feel incomplete. We mainly use either a baguette or rye bread to complement the main course.
    • When my parent was living in Paris for school, since she didn’t have a lot of spending money she would go down to the bakery really early in the morning and wait by the back door, she had make friends with one of the staff and he always gave her the runoffs or halved pieces for breakfast. If she had more money that day she would splurge for a chocolate croissant.
    • My grandmother lived in Barbados for at least 25 years, almost every Christmas we would head down to visit her, we would spend days at the beach, since she got herself a membership to a yacht club in the last few years she was there we made it a tradition to order cinnamon sugar toast with tea in the afternoons. They were cut into soldiers, which was also my favourite as a kid, and the best thing I had all day, besides ice cream of course. I always asked to have the last piece. Since she moved back to Canada to be closer and, us stopped going a few years before, I don’t think we continued that tradition since. It’s something I miss that now remembering hopefully I can find a way to replicate it here.
  • On the topic of the pandemic: People were home, all of us were at home, the ones who could be, there was time, people spend much more time online surfing the internet for things to do besides Zoom calls and appearing for class. This includes parents, already avid bakers and the curious. Although production slowed in manufacturing, of things like yeast and grocery stores could restock the shelves as fast as people were buying… Birthdays didn’t stop, family dinners just became virtual, thanksgiving stuffing was still being made, brunch didn’t stop just looked different, bakery were still producing just changed how to deliver, people who once had full lives while living alone, not needed something to fill their time. Thus, bread became a way to pull people together as a common relabel base. The worst thing you can do to bread is forget an ingredient or burn it. It is a safe, consistent source of amusement and it makes you feel good, thats why people flocked, they needed something easy and certain because nothing else was.
Test Bread (made it for dinner with homemade fish chowder)
Final Product – Butter, sea salt and sesame seeds were added. Ate it with butter, peach jelly and peanut butter.


Anything but Zoom

  • Hi, my finished video project consists of the same idea as my proposal, I just centered the concept around attending an online Zoom class. What one does when their camera is off and audio muted.
  • I for one love making food before and after class. I stuck with both the feet and face to document body language, i.e. if one were to give a presentation on Zoom in front of the classmates, their face may be calm, but their feet may show a nervous twitch, etc.
  • Time passing, not chronological.
  • I found DaVinci Resolve to be relatively easy to navigate, had assistance from Tech Nathan, but i did have some minor set backs, having to start again from last saved and trouble with some audio, now fixed…
  • I am not a fan of attending class in my pajamas, even if my peers can only see half of me, therefore jeans seemed more appropriate then fuzzy taxi slippers/socks and Christmas PJ bottoms.
  • Enjoy!

Class reflection on video: they lied it, could get muddied when overlapping video, different secret moments when you camera is off. Would have be interesting to see 12 mes with all the moments, ie feet, faces, hands etc… Documenting the parts that are less visible… Faces draw people in more then feet…


Class/Reading Notes

Article on Vivian Castro Notes:

  • I can agree with their statement on ‘Zoom Fatigue’ I for one am prone to headaches and now more than ever by 7 pm have to lie down just to rest my eyes because it affects my head. As the University of Guelph as started advertising ‘Zoom out’ i.e ‘did you zoom out today?’ to try and get students to take a break from the amount of time on screens. Just like the use of Lysol and it’s possible impact on our bodies… I would like there to be a study done for both, how much is too much and what are the longterm issues with everything being online. But I get it, ‘stay home stay safe’. If only I could print out everything… But that’s not eco friendly either. So here’s to taking naps at 7 pm.
  • When I think of video art I think of the piece of a Buddha being live streamed to itself on a small TV. It’s presentation of being shown in a gallery gave the viewer a change to integrate itself in the screen if the stand at a distance behind the camera and Buddha. This on the other hand is interesting, calling friends or calling ourselves on the screen is daunting in itself. I find incorporating new people into a project that don’t understand the class can feel just off.
  • The idea of showing just the face on a Zoom has an interesting meaning, what if one were to record something else, as Castro mentioned in the text, it can be personal or not, normally from class or group project many of us show a clean room or a black wall of you even decide to turn your camera on.
  • I do agree with the notion of speaking to a person face to face is not the same as video conferencing, there is the issue of the glitch as well as having to take turns within the conversation. Zoom for one doesn’t take more than one voice as we learned in the in class laughing trial. I find that in person, within a group body language is extremely important when you see someone is itching to say something or wanted to raise their hand. Which I still do even in Zoom classes for comfort in this strange year. You loose that in person body readings around you. Plus I do believe that emotions are lost when not in person. Joy and sadness don’t have the same affect on someone (either doing the action or watching someone).
  • My last note on the reading, the immobility Castro mentioned is right, we are all roughly doing the same thing, sitting in class, staring at a screen, either getting up for the necessities then returning to our stations and waiting for the next call. For me it’s my bedroom, I am either sitting on the bed or working on art projects at my desk, but it’s the same set up day in and day out, same expectancy and readiness for classes and my hopeful ability to work my way through assignments. I found that the only thing recently that has lifted my spirits is Halloween, although it’s cancelled this year, I have put effort into decorating and dressing up with things from my closet. My lurking dread is that once halloween is over I’m just going to have a slump until Christmas. Let’s hope not, I just got out of one.
In Class Jot Notes

Videos on Week 6 Notes:

  • The idea of stop motion and DADA artists making films appeal to me more than the ones where taking happens, I find I have done a few drawing videos and simplistic object videos in high school (in a similar course to Experimental called NonTrad). I also have a love for posters and the type of Typography/colour layout used for band and museum posters.
  • I was volunteering at an art space in a hospital a few years ago and one of the staff had made these stop motion films they played for the youth in the program. Although the set ups/framing were static the movement on the screen made these youth jump for joy, they loved the old film sound and how the machine projected the images on the wall. The staff member had videos on everything on monsters to one completely with cut up letters that just made weird sounds as it zipped along the projected image. Personally, it was more the reaction to the videos from the youth in the room more than the videos I looked at but they were catchy enough that they stayed in my mind for at least a couple months after. That would be something to think about instead.
  • The work of Candice Breitz especially the Madonna video resonates with me. Out of all the singling I found myself paying close attention to the parts where there was a pause or only one person was signing during the instrumental, almost as if I was specifically looking for the mistakes rather than the harmonious moments.
  • Pipillotti Rist, Open My Glade made me fell unconformable, had the same felling of the people that do to asmr of eating honeycombs or squish bread with their faces…

Proposal Ideas

IN CLASS SHARE FEEDBACK (on proposal idea)

  • Multiple perspectives, from low or human angles (socks perspective or under the table or on a self).
  • Have editing be the key, displaying the videos side by side or distorting the images or sound. Add something warped.
  • Have a visual rock (anker) to each video in view, do something in the frame thats less mundane although the idea of a Zoom call is normal and integrated in our daily lives.
  • Possibly: have multiple people do the same thing, each videoing themselves in two perspectives.

  1. My first idea plays along with the idea of having two recorded videos, presented together side by side or spliced together, of a zoom call but with no one on screen or at least them (me) in the background.
    1. I thought about having an angle that was not the face, I’d choose another body part like the elbow or feet. It would be interesting to record myself with my daily actions while ‘in class’ but not having the desired angle, showing what others would see of they were in person in my same space, i.e. chair shifting, making food, playing with my hands, or clipping toenails or movement of my feet during class, etc.
    2. As a thought progress continuation – I find that when logging off after a class there is about an hour where I try and get mu basic needs met before more family members come home, this means, cleaning up, making food, setting the dinner table, dancing in the kitchen, these are things that are a common occurrence recently but still a part of me time, a time to ‘Zoom out’ and be happy with no screen and no-one around to invade and disrupt my thoughts.
    3. The camera angles wouldn’t be anything dramatic but I think I lower angle would be great, like sitting on the floor.
    4. I don’t want it to have any facial recognition just moment, almost like the quietness that you experience in a library, you can hear rustling, humming, or headphone music playing, as much as this is a video project I was thinking more of a sound scape.
    5. The idea of it being voyeristic without the personal intimate aspects is the direction I want to go. I am hoping to use my kitchen as the location while not having the screens on the same shot together.
    6. If I wanted to push it I could think about the idea that our phones are always watching us, and listening but I’m not sure of I want to go that far. I quite liked Nevan’s piece with her lying in bed, but without the sed up unless it looks better that way.
    7. IN terms of presentation. I was thinking either displaying both side by side with a black screen or have both play over a still image from the shot but blurred to not interfere with the noises in the video.
    8. The technology I might use is Zoom or Facebook… I will let it run for the half an hour and leave it to chance with my animals roaming around.
    9. My influences with this are really the Lo-fi sound scapes available on youtube or the study with me videos, although I think how the videos will be presented will be the most important aspects of it rather than the video themselves. I’m open to suggestions.
  2. Below are some videos and images I found for inspiration:
  • breakfast. [jazz hop / lofi / chill mix] –
  • Open Window New York City Soundscape at Night –
  • Recording a 3D Soundscape of a Winter Forest (with 3D Binaural Audio) – [Start at 3:44]
  • The Western Soundscape Archive | Preserving nature’s soundtrack –

3. Here is a sample drawing of where I could put the two computers and what they would see: (I’m not the best at drawing maps, I will add some freeze frame images when testing out his idea soon.)


Rules for making his Instagram video clips:

  • Each subject is framed in the center of the shot. He also posts the uncropped video version in his Instagram stories.
  • He is standing at least 5 meters away with a long lends to capture onto the subject and not the background.
  • How they are presented on his Instagram, you can see the whole body(ies) even in the thumbnail.
  • He either angles them to look indirectly at the camera or depending on the pose i.e. the BLM Marcel video has them looking directly at the camera.
  • The Vancouver sun’s article shares that he likes taking the video and a still image at the same time, it would be nice to see bother presented in the same post.
  • His posts change with the government guidelines and the information that comes out about safety precautions one should take to not transmit the virus. In the beginning, you can see that no one is wearing a mask up until March 22nd where Jaya is posing with their skateboard outside.
  • He also doesn’t shoot groups together unless they are from the same household.
  • At first, he tries to have the pose of the person to be natural to them and relate to their statement. For example, Qadir (March 28th) with his boxing gloves, standing in an action pose which complements his statement about staying positive, staying in shape and supporting the front line workers who are doing a wonderful job. Another example is Melissa, a teacher, she holds an inviting stance, as she is excited to welcome her students back to school, who have been desperate to connect with each other.
  • Some of the backgrounds he uses in relation to where he asked the person to take their photo have reference to the pandemic, either congregating in small groups all the park. Either warned by the city not to… (A recent news story in Toronto about all the people that were in Trinity Bellwoods Park, springs to mind). Or capturing protesters for the black lives movement has an impactful statement of people coming together but still distancing and wearing their masks.
  • When looking at the layout of the Instagram feed, He posts the images from the same location or area one after another. For example, the videos of the beach trip are together and the park photos are together. On some occasions, there is music attached to the video but most have the natural sound.
  • One of my favourites is Kelly and Aria (Oct 9th). The music is haunting but seeing her eyes move adds life into the image.
  • His approach is similar to the Humans of New York Instagram but with more originality in the poses. He shows a snippet of what the last 6 months have been for many while not giving too much away. Fundamentally we are all going through the same thing no matter or political opinion, or race, class or age, just like passing a stranger on the street and giving them a discrete once over as we pass, there is now a sense of understanding and care we have for one another. I do hope that continues.

Social Distancing Video Portrait 1 (I have no choice, but I’m lucky edition)


“Myself it’s a risky job. I have been working in a convenience store since middle of March when Covid 19 started. In my store, I was serving all customers. So far I’m lucky and safe. I instructed all customers to wear a mask when entering in my store. I have no choice continuing this, my job. Until our country finds the right medicine for Covid 19, as a Canadian I try to do my best in the community. Thank you.”

Social Distancing Video Portrait 2 (Mounting COVID numbers; is change in the wind edition).


“The last 6 weeks have been full of change causing internal anxiety for the students and the teachers. It seems like procedures shift daily and take up space in my brain. The COVID numbers are mounting in the city and businesses are closing down once again. I fear that I will be back in my kitchen staring at a screen all day trying to make the students buy into the lesson. But Casinos are opening up in Ontario today…”

Notes from Maggie: As of the end of this month, Alan, will be selling the store. He has been the owner on and off for many years and will be missed.


Class Notes


Location: Bloor, On route to Sherbourne Station in Toronto.

*** This is my knowledge of this area. I’ve had a few opportunities to work with the kids in the area, but I’m still an outsider. I don’t live in the residing towers. Here is my perspective from a community-building/engagement perspective.

  • This area is residential, it is filled with children and families of all ethnicities and cultures. It as sandwiched between Riverdale, Cabbage Town, Bay St area and the Don Valley.
  • The area has mid to lower-income households.
  • Lots of families live in small apartments, mainly 8 floors tall and lower.
  • There used to be a patch of green space with an abandoned house here.
  • Nearby there is one school playground, during the summers it is packed with children. That is the only main space to play in large groups within walking distance of all the apartment buildings.
  • What’s going up on this corner is a massive building, has no connection to the area, only affordable to few, not all.
  • The construction safety walls has the vision of art made by community programs and artist but does not reflect what is being built, or what it lacks, in terms of supporting the community, other than the chain restaurants nearby.
  • Saftey walls have repeating pictures of lush green trees, vendors, humans and characters enjoying being outdoors, etc.
I chose to put my banner on the green artist board and the red company’s name, although hard to see, I used the same red and white colours as a Stop Sign or Yield Sign.

Materials: White printer paper, red dollar store gift bag repurposed paper and cotton string (in reference to cotton socks worn by construction workers).


Sample of construction walls placed around the site.
Location: From a distance


Class Notes

Class discussion about last week’s blog post: Book Stacks

Class discussion notes: Katachdourian’s love of the physical notion of the book. She enjoys using their feel in her hands, the shape, colour and texture. She uses the material presence of the books.

  • Look closely at things that we know so we know what they are.
  • Discoverists in our own libraries.

Week Two – WordPress Assignment: Looking text as art images. Choose two images and write about… How they use text (size, shape, letter accents, the composition of the text on a surface). Different media – billboards, books, lights, installations? How the work is crafted. How is the work intended viewer. What is the meaning and what media works well with the message experienced of the viewer. How the text stands in for the artwork and the affect it has? Use letters and words as the material itself.

Reading/Artwork Response

The two art pieces I have chosen to write about are John Baldessari, Tips for Artists Who Want to Sell, 1966-1968 and Joi T. Arcand, Northern Pawn, South Vietnam, 2009.

The typography within John Baldessari’s, Tips for Artists Who Want to Sell, 1966-1968, uses westernized and European references. The material and dark beige colour it’s printed on has looks like either a store sign written by the owner on a sample size a 8.5×11 sheet of paper. It is similar to the work of Sol LeWitt as he gives a set of instructions. Although not numbered on the page, the bold list spots next to each paragraph gives each text piece a surge of attention to each first word of the paragraphs. If he had created the piece with text only, no special characters, it would make the words like they hold less importance. I would not be enticed to read the whole of the text but only read the first and last sentence.

He is addressing a target audience of creators and mark-makers. He uses impersonal text, i.e. no tales on the ends of his letters, yet does not go for the obvious Ariel or Calibri. There is a formality to the piece, like a professor giving an assignment sheet to students. The text in all capitals adds to this formality, and showcases everything written below the initialized but bolded title. This gives importance to the text. The text is also selective in its word choice. Unlike Arcand’s photograph, there is no visual stimulation. It does not dictates a location or want the viewer to imagine a future that could be within reach. European/westernized representations are used with not collaboration with different cultures or norms. Joi T. Arcand work below, uses the Cree written language as a cultural statement taking us out of the European norm.

John Baldessari doesn’t want the artists who use this text as instructions to fail or loose focus. He aims to have a controversy free result from this work. The text also has little connection with art history other than the Christian Madonna reference. Yet on the other side, he chooses to state that masculine and strong imagery like rosters and bulls sell more. A note to the bias found to society?

Joi T. Arcand’s photograph and series Here on Future Earth is a contemplative and exciting look into text, how it shapes our surroundings and our perception of one’s local environment. As the website: canadianart put it, her implementation of exchanging English titles and labels of storefronts, buildings and signs for text in the Cree language, “changes the visual landscape” and challenges how we conceive the geographical location we reside in. Arcand changes the meaning of each logo or title of building; but creatively uses a ‘painterly’ format by understanding the breakdown of syllables and how each letter looks in comparison to one another. How the text sits and shapes its surroundings.

So often, we are over saturated with the same labels and logos of companies that we are able to identify a sign just by its colours such as McDonalds, Starbucks or even our favourite book stores. Especially if we don’t travel by foot, the passing of buildings or storefronts become a large blur. The language, the font, colour or letter shape can influence what we think of an area. For example, I live in Toronto, and near me there is a section of the Danforth called Greek Town. The sign hanging over the street when you enter and the constant shades of blue stripes on each pole give the perception that the area is full with Greek owned restaurants and stores. In actuality, the population of the area is very diverse, few Greek people actually live in the area because the Greek diaspora in Toronto has sped its wings. However one would not know this from the visual representation that is prominently shown on the Danforth when one is passing by. Greek Town feels “Greek” in its visual representation.

Joi T. Arcand’s Northern Pawn uses text and the sculptural aspects in both her painted words and the commercialized plastic material as a transportation vessel to get her new norm across. She brings you forward and backwards in time. For example, she make’s a ‘lens’ to show how land is governed by language, how changing the language changes the political power relationship. The syllables allow us to envision the past and who used to live or still lives in the town. Who has the ownership of the businesses, are they power present or power past? Arcand strives for a non-western outlook in language/letter representation. This allows the normalization of this practice and perspective. Hopefully choosing language alternatives when labeling will further more diverse positions in art and society. It is well known that many languages, some old dialects or languages that have a small population of speakers are slowly being lost in the swath of the majority speakers, therefore, Arcand’s photographs revitalize and preserve language by increasing its visibility. The affect these photographs is refreshing, like visiting another country, helping one to rethink the norm. There is a sense of satisfaction in seeing marginalized cultures and language integrated into westernized civilization as if they were the norm or not. It is an interesting mind game. We need to see more non-majority languages represented in our society on a daily basis, normalizing Indigenous languages, changing power relationships. Common use of any language both written and spoken is important for education of the general public and the visibility of marginalized peoples.



Photo One – For Whom The Bell Tolls

The first book stack assembled is a combination of books I own and my parent owns. I wanted to create a stack that commented on the events that happened over the summer without delving too deep. I identify as a white person who has ancestral ties to both Métis and colonial history. This means I should and do care about the racial inequalities that are currently rearing their heads in the general conscience of society. Too bad some think racism and inequality are new and not the ongoing societal bias of our colonial past. The last book is of woman artists, I thought it would be an appropriate nod towards the feminist march that took place in 2019. Our library is diverse and thought-provoking, reflecting the controversial richness of the world we inhabit. Each day on social media there’s a new petition or event to attend, it can be hard to not get lost in the melee. I wanted to showcase what I’ve been witnessing and self-educating on with my peers.

Photo Two – Fashion is…

This second book stack is an opinionated piece. In my personal opinion, I am on the fence about how art is displayed in galleries. The Art’s monetary value is tied to the name of the artist, word of mouth and the marketing machine that pushes the trinkets being replicated from the original art without sustainability. Funnily enough, this was an ongoing topic of discussion two years ago when I took Dave Dyment’s class. Yes, I love art galleries and museums, I am guilty of buying magnets, socks and posters of famous art pieces, but I do believe there is a point where the societal saturation of a painting or sculpture goes too far. But on the other hand, I also believe that art should be for the general public and not locked away in someone’s vault. As an artist who makes and consume art, I’m still trying to work out my feelings toward the subject.

Photo Three – Comfort Food…

Top to bottom: Comfort Food, Along Memory Lane, Mushroom Salad, Milk and Honey

This last stack of books is a nod to food and its comfort. After posting the picture I do harbour some reluctance towards the recipe book to the stack, it’s size and content don’t match the other three but if taken away there wouldn’t be a set theme. In this case, compared to the other two stacks I was caught in the sphere of family dinners and diner parties. There is pathos here as the parties are not on the menu these days.


Nina Katchadourian’s Only Yesterday photo from the series: Kansas Cut-up which is part of the Sorted Book Project is an interesting example of an intuitive assembly. It reminds me of moving plastic letters or word magnets around the surface of my fridge to make a sentence or finding creative word associations in a novel by erasing/covering sentences until you are happy with the end result… She is creating a story, moreso poetry with titles of books. Katchadourian uses the physical qualities, title relations, lists and blocks of colour. She pays close attention to book cover typography and backgrounds of covers to mismatch these stacks from the libraries of many, including the personal library of Willam S. Burrows.

Understandably, from the video, Sorted Books | Nina Katchadourian we learn that she has an extensive process of sorting, labelling and physically moving the book stacks around until she is content with the end result, this may take hours or just a few minutes to put together. As she sorts through a library she learns about the person through their use of books.

  1. How many times they may have picked up the book to re-read?
  2. The condition of a book: Is the spine cracked in multiple places?
  3. Are the pages ripped?
  4. Are their notes or sticky notes peaking out the sides?
  5. How has the book owner organized the books on the shelves? By colour? Most read? Least enjoyed?

From there, she takes these books and tries to create a profile of the person. Out of all the photographs presented on the assignment page, I was drawn towards her Only Yesterday, 2014 photograph.

The series Kansas Cut-Up from the Sorted Books project
Pictured above: Only Yesterday
C-prints, each 12.5 x 19 inches, 2014
Only Yesterday,
I Left My Grandfather's House,
I Left My Grandfather's House,
I Left My Grandfather's House,

Visually, one can see that she has assembled these books based on having multiple copies, the size and colour as well as their composition. Reading from the top book to the bottom, the text holds more that one linguistic inflection when reading these titles aloud. The first two books set up the story while the repetitive titles and vibrancy can make the viewer, me, understand it’s urgency and prominence. To be able to relate to why Burrows had various amounts of the same book and multiples is a mystery, yet may have insight into his own body of written work.

He was known for beat literature and paranoid fiction. All things considered, he was writing and creating in a post-war era, the 1950s, where PTS was not uncommon for many people in America who had been affected by WWII. Therefore, Katchadourian’s process of assembling this particular book stack, in my eyes, is an ode to the 1950s and Borrow’s body of work.

Side Note: Out of curiosity I wanted to see if this particular book stack had any colour relations to his geographical location and Katchadourian’s series title. Burrows spent the latter part of his life in Kansas. The city’s colours are red and gold and Kansas State’s colour is royal purple (shades of purple). Just an interesting thought as to why he owned the books (depending on when he bought them), other than for their content. Just like in Guelph, seeing the school colours on a daily basis may draw you towards buying something with similar colours…

* * *

The second Photograph from the assignment page I would like to unfold is the work of Dave Dyment, ONE BILLION YEARS [PAST AND FUTURE], 2012.

A collection of books pertaining to the past and future, arranged chronologically from One Billion Years Ago to The Next Billion Years.

As a student at the University of Guelph, I had the opportunity to take two of Dave’s classes (Extended Practices 1 and 2). Knowing his lecture style and opinions purely based on what objects he willingly shared with his students during class hours gives me some insight into his work. Along with the multitude of photographs he collected and commented on during our weekly PowerPoint presentations, I have to say that this artwork (pictured above) is not unusual and is consistent with what I learned about in class. He enjoys collecting, both functional and sometimes impractical objects, he always took great care in how he sorted through bookstores or websites to find the one piece that was missing from his home collection and needed for his work. He is meticulous in maintaining and preserving their quality over time. His art world connections aided in his searches. He is always direct with his thought processes/explanations and has no qualms letting you know when there was a piece or artist he did not care for. I believe the same type of time and focus went into the creation of ONE BILLION YEARS.

Listed below is the ways he may have chosen these particular books:

  1. Quality and value to himself or the artist who made the product (i.e. the limited additions available and their uniqueness).
  2. If the book was written by another artist he was friends within the art community, he’d put in the effort to buying it.
  3. Colour doesn’t overwhelming matter within this composition, it’s more the text he was focused on, to stick to the pattern of past and present.
    • After further analysis there is a slight colour pattern to his work, the three prominent colours are red blue and shades of yellow, yet this may be accidental due to it having no correlation to the text on the spines.
  4. In this case, the content may have some relevance but for appearance sake, I don’t think it mattered. Nor would the print date as long as it is relatively close to the first print release. Again, he favoured limited editions of objects.
  5. I hypothesize that he may have already owned some of these books and put great effort into sourcing these books in person and curated the covers. He may have also exchanged books every so often to be more inclusive of eras and locations (America to Scotland).
  6. Lastly, from the photograph, he chose all used books, the spines are cracked, edges dented and worn embossed titles.

Other than his organization of books from one ara to another and the slow visual uniformity of the printing press sizes, I don’t see any major correlation to the language of books and no familial ties he represents within the work. Yet… circling back to the uniformity of the books based on the future half of his arrangement (right side) this can be a connected by itself.

  • With access to the internet, we now have lost some of our creative nature as an individual artist because the world is so interconnected, whatever we make as artists will be or has been a copy of someone else work.
  • The new global rules on how tasks are completed or guidelines for making art are drawbacks to spontaneity, i.e. book sizes…

In conclusion, my theories on how he assembled the books based on uniformity and societal interconnection/loss of creativity, would be an interesting avenue to explore.