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Apr 30, 2015

100 Books of Shelf Space

The curse of a creative mind: getting to sleep is like putting a toddler to bed when there's ice cream
"Under Covers" (detail), pencil by Tim Holmes
happening in the living room. For me this leads to not only a bunch of hair-brain ideas but a very prodigious reading list. 
I know that's unusual but while reading upright puts me to sleep, oddly, reading sideways can go on for hours without similar effect. My book list only started a couple years ago when I took a MOOC literature course from Brown University and because I had to read 12 novels in as many weeks, started keeping track of the books I read. Much to my surprise, last week I finished #100 since then. Though there were some meaty titles on the list like Plato's Republic and Moby Dick, the one that crossed the 100-mark line was the totally fluffy Dave Barry Is Not Making This Up. (No, that's the real title!)

Years ago I found myself buying books at a prodigious rate and simply insulating my house with them. Finally I realized what I was buying was not so much the book as the dream of having time to read it. Now I recognize my dream fulfilled, though in a quite unexpected way.

I don't know how much people read any more, but I was amazed to see how long my list was. Since I do most of my reading in the middle of the night I never thought about the sheer volume, but in the same period I also completed 20 online courses, (mostly in cosmology and the humanities). Rather a lot, really. Even though I don't have a TV this makes me begin to think maybe I'm addicted to information. There is nothing I like better than learning new things, (well, nearly nothing), and what's with that feeling of delight I find diving into the news, even though I know there's nothing there but tragedy? I sometimes wonder if I don't read for entertainment; not so noble as education, but fun all the same. Maybe I should add to the list an assessment of how much I think each book improved my character. But then I already have this warm feeling of life lived well and I really don't want to mess with a good thing...
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I'm a sculptor/filmmaker living in Montana, USA. I am using art to move the evolution of humanity forward into an increasingly responsive, inclusive and interactive culture. As globalization flattens peoples into a capitalist monoculture I hope to use my art to celebrate historical cultural differences and imagine how we can co-create a rich future together.

I see myself as an artist/philosopher laboring deep in the mines of joy. I've had a good long career of exhibiting work around the world and working on international outreach projects, most notably being the first American to be invited to present a one-person exhibit in the Hermitage Museum. Recently I have turned my attention from simply making metal sculpture to creating films and workshops for engaging communities directly, tinkering with the very ideas and mechanisms behind cultural transformation. I feel that as we face tragic world crises, if the human species favors our imaginative and creative capacities we can cultivate a rich world to enjoy.

For me the deepest satisfaction in making art comes in engaging people's real life concerns rather than providing simple entertainment or decoration. Areas of conflict or tension are particularly ripe for the kind of transformative power that art uniquely carries. I invite any kind of challenge that serves people on a deep level.