The Hunger Curios

As a child I loved the Mother West Wind Stories by Thornton Burgess.  At the time I was not aware of the social commentary going on in the tales of these animals.  As an adult I found many references to topics like hunger.  I made this artist-book based on four of those references.

You can click on each picture to see an enlargement.

artist book, the Hunger Curios
The Hunger Curios, view 1

The book is meant to be experienced (like a cabinet of curios) as well as read.Artist Book, The Hunger Curios

Incorporated in The Hunger Curios are four smaller books of collages with quotations from Burgess’ work.

Artist book, The Hunger Curios
Getting into the book

It is important to me that my book not be an illustration of Burgess’ work.  It is more a visual rumination based on some of Burgess’ thoughts.

artist book, The Hunger Curios

As a digital artist, I find that I do not want to abandon the old ways.  Curious fact:

  • digit |ˈdijit|
    1 any of the numerals from 0 to 9, esp. when forming part of a number.
    2 a finger (including the thumb) or toe.
    • Zoology an equivalent structure at the end of the limbs of many higher vertebrates.
    ORIGIN late Middle English: from Latin digitus ‘finger, toe’; sense 1 arose from the practice of counting on the fingers.

So while digital refers to counting on the fingers and toes, it can also mean something that you make with your fingers (and – presumably – your toes).  I feel at home in either world.

artist book, The Hunger Curios

The experience of making the collages was liberating.  I had a bunch of old prints which I tore up and put back together heedless of the thought process.  Fast and dirty.  But since the old prints were printed on heavy watercolor paper, the ink cracked and seams broke open when I tried to make the accordion folds.  So I then scanned the collages and printed them on long-fiber Japanese paper, and lo….they were manageable.

Just as in childhood, I had to put the books away when Mother called.  So here is The Hunger Curios back in its cabinet.

Artist book, the hunger curios

If you wish to read through the small books, go to

Oola and I will be taking off in Mom’s Memorial Prius to attend a wedding in Texas.  I am planning on sending you a drawing or photograph a day.

Fourth Street Studios

Within the memory of living artists there  exists the dregs of an attitude toward photography that said, photography is not Art.  It is merely a technical production of an image.  Painting is “Art”.  This attitude has fortunately waned.

And I remember an art professor who insisted that etching was art, but silkscreen was not, because the ink in silkscreen sat on the surface of the paper while etching ink sank so luxuriously into the paper.

Nowadays there is a prejudice that sees only the “traditional” printmaking techniques as valid High Art, while art that is produced on the computer is supposedly not Art.  Ghosts of “giclee”, fugitive color issues, and the use of digital printing to simply reproduce images made in “traditional” media still dog the artist who creates images by digital means.

Well, Oola and I are here to tell you that “Art” is not about what materials or equipment are used.  Art is not even about the product.  Art is about the process of bringing an idea, or a nagging question, or a screech from the amygdala to life.  Or maybe it is just about the need to metaphorically scratch an itch.

We went to see three artists in the Fourth Street Studios in Berkeley who make art-prints by means of the computer.

You can click on any image below to see an enlargement that reveals more detail.

Kristin Doner
Kristin Doner

Kristin Doner makes her digital images by copying her finger prints on the scanner as the light moves under the glass.  She riffs on these fragments digitally, making abstract images of both delicacy and strength, and as the name “Wabi-Sabi” implies, elegant impermanence.  To see and read Kristin’s explanation of her process, see her blog

Kristin Doner, from the Wabi-Sabi Ikebana series

From a distance Matthew Silverberg’s HUUUUUGE prints look like glowing light, enough light that they are their own contexts.

Matthew Silvergerg
Matthew Silverberg

Then, when you get close to them you see myriads of stringed textures, like the “skeins” of thread or yarn implied in their titles.  If you know something about Photoshop you will recognize the work of combining many, many layers and modes.


You can see more of Matthew’s “Skein” series at

On the more photographic side of digital expression, Joanna Ruckman has created a marvelous series from her inheritance of her grandmother’s aprons.  The tales hidden in these digital composites are fascinating and moving.  Just bring your own experience and your imagination to her work.

Joanne Ruckman
Joanne Ruckman

I love this image for its reduction to absolute essentials: light and a breeze animating an apron, breathing memories to life. In Joanna’s words  “…memories are woven in to familial artifacts while exploring cultural boundaries and American tradition.”

Joanna Ruckman
Joanna Ruckman  – from the “Apron” series.

See more of this remarkable series at

So, like the Mysterious One says, “It ain’t the instrument, it’s the music you make with the instrument.”  Oola says that a teacher once told her not to say “ain’t”.  So Oola says to tell you this:  “Ain’t, Ain’t, Ain’t.”