Artist's Statement | all those words
"all those words" is a series of about 50 mixed-media works inspired by my favorite lines from James Joyce’s “Ulysses.” The title of the series is taken from: "... wrote me that letter with all those words in it how could he." Hilarious!
I incorporated visual elements by my father, Jim Brewton, who died in 1967. My husband, Si Rosenthal, collaborated by providing his cutting-edge handwriting.
"all those words" was underway when I began searching for my father's artwork in 2008. My art-making was much interrupted, and then greatly influenced, by my finding so much of Jim's work. Until 2009, I had only seen about a dozen of his paintings, so I was dazzled by seeing so many brilliant creations for the first time.
After about a year of experimenting, I decided my father wouldn't mind if I reacted to his work by collaborating with him—taking up unfinished images and elements, and clippings he’d saved. Jim himself was a great borrower.
“all those words” includes paintings, film fragments, prints, and constructions. Among the phrases it explores:
These became a meditation on possibility and fate; a contemplation of life’s influence upon creativity, and art upon the life of its bearer.
In choosing the subjects and engaging with their images, I adhered to seven constraints and inserted jokes and clues to their identities. The children appear either uncomfortable or hyper-aware of the camera. When you spend some time looking at them, even the babies' self-conscious gazes seem oddly prescient.
There are about 20 works in the "prize babies" series. I think I'm finished with them. I'm now turning back to the main "Ulysses" project. There's a folder full of phrases I've chosen to explore and savor, and friends keep sending me more. Feel free to send me your favorites from "Ulysses," and I'll add them to the pile. I started this project almost nine years ago and expect to finish ... never.
Thank you for your interest in "all those words."
Emily Brewton Schilling
New York City