One Is The Holiest Number (#2)

“One Is the Holiest Number #2” is a meditation on the paradox of one: how each of us as an individual is distinctly one, yet simultaneously part of a unified whole. I’ve been investigating these theme for several years, creating work that explores the “in-between space” where identity is constantly shifting and certainties lose form.

cover of an artist book: One Is the Holiest Number (#2)

At one extreme, where the false ego pushes us, we feel isolated and alone. At the other, we feel at one with everyone and everything. Mostly we live in the space between. Although illusion tries to persuade us otherwise, we are always One.

“One is the Holiest Number (#2)” is a traditional multi-signature codex incorporating relief, intaglio and letterpress printing. Text is minimal, allowing a variety of shapes, patterns, and textures to communicate content.

Opened book showing "one" as text on the left and a drawing of an abstract object

The image above shows the first spread of the book. I used pen and ink to draw all of the images in the book, then digitized to create a photopolymer plate for printing on the letterpress. The text is also printed from photopolymer plate. The pinkish background behind the image was created by printing 8 layers, each a different color: 4 relief, 4 intaglio.

In “One Is the Holiest Number (#2),” I play with what seem to be contradictions to reveal paradoxes. For instance, in the first spread, the text “one” does not seem to match the image, which contains two objects, although the two objects could also be seen as one since they are enclosed within a single container.

text on the left says "two then less than one" and an abstract image on the right shows a hole

When we experience the loss of a loved one, we may feel like part of ourselves has been lost, as well. Any loss can result in the sense that we’ve lost our own identity. Attachment intensifies the sense of loss.

"Empty" - detail view of the artist book "One Is the Holiest Number (#2)"

Paradoxically, when we feel empty, we’re actually quite full, but not of what we want. We’re full of stories the false self tells us. The false self wants to maintain control. Fooling ourselves into thinking we’re in charge of our lives, we step out of the flow and into a place that feels empty.

"Alone" - detail view of "One Is the Holiest Number (#2)"
All One - detail view of "One Is the Holiest Number (#2)"

These two images show the shift from “alone” to “all one” as the page turns. Indeed, the shift we experience from feeling all alone to feeling united can happen in an instant, merely by adjusting the filter in which we view the circumstance. The truth is that we are always united as one. Separation is an illusion.

"Emptied" - detail view of "One Is the Holiest Number (#2)"

Emptied of misconceptions, we free ourselves to live in the truth. “Kenosis,” Greek for “emptying,” describes the act of letting go of the stories fabricated by the false self – the self-importance, the self-pity, self-absorption, etc. When we’ve emptied ourselves of limiting beliefs, we open ourselves to living more fully in the present moment and all that arises in this moment. 

I received the 2016 Minnesota Book Artist Award for “One Is the Holiest Number (#2).”

“One Is the Holiest Number (#2)”
10″ x .5″ x 10″ (closed)
20″ x .25″ x 10″ (open)
Edition of 25

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