As an archivist working with artist archives, one of my greatest sensitivities is ensuring that the logic of how an artist maintained his/her studio is recognized and preserved. Best practices must include maintaining that logic when preparing the materials for transfer to an archival repository, be it a museum, academic institution, or foundation study center. Preserving original order is a basic tenet in archival practice, but not always recognized when an estate is handling an artist’s studio after the artist passes away. Preserving the structure of how an artist used and accessed their resources provides valuable clues to the workflow of the maker.
With each archival collection I process, another voice enters my head, along with another piece of wisdom. Ideas from a long lost soul have landed in my hands, before landing in the hands of countless others. This is strange kinship seeps into my consciousness. A voice, a thought, an image from a distant time.
Are these errant pieces of mental marginalia I collect beginning to coalesce into one shared memory, hailing from all the collections on which I work. Could there be such a think as an archival murmuration? A flock of ideas morphing into a particular spectacular pattern? read more
The night before an impending blizzard landing in Manhattan felt like the perfect time to gather with friends deep in the bowels of New York City’s Municipal Archives. The goal was to test out a creative writing workshop I’ve been pondering over this past year, which focuses on using archival material as a resource for fiction writing and visual art making. Our host was Sylvia Kollar, Director of the Municipal Archives, who conjured up extraordinary records for us to ponder together as a group. In particular, we worked with selected Bertillion Cards pulled from a collection of early 20th century mug shots held within the city’s archives. read more
I’m snowed in and pondering the blustery vista seen from my window here in the Hudson Valley. It’s a muffled-silent day. I’m somewhat stranded by this impressive weather pattern, yet here I sit, traveling great distances within the expanse of the NYPL Digital Collections. I return to these collections as a bustling hub of creative space, where I truly love to roam — and cobble together digital assemblages based on the theme of (my) day.
The image above is the result of a photoshop conversation I had a while back with my pal and graphic designer extraordinaire, Tom Smith. He and I have had a number of purely image-based conversations, unfolding from the passing back and forth of archival images we have both hoarded from a variety of collections. read more