Published February 16, 2021

During our February 10 Annual Meeting, we began discussing various possibilities for our 2021 Member’s Project.
You’re most welcome to join the conversation in the comment’s section below

Capturing the discussion, Bonnie Bernstein emailed on the following day…

Hello again, attendees!

For the first time in months, this morning I found myself still free-associating over some of the creative ideas offered up during our early discussion about this year’s member project. I can’t tell you how energizing that feels!

I’m not the only one. Last night, Jennifer Billingsly forwarded a link to the Order of Everyday Humans Distinguished Medals Project, something “to store away as a variation of the group project theme that was percolating tonight.” The site invites visitors… to create a medal honoring whomever (or whatever)  you feel moved to express gratitude to at this moment: your grocery bagger, delivery driver, medical personnel, DJ, dance instructor, poet, beloved book, favorite vegetable, cookie recipe, song, movie, toothbrush, friend…
Here’s the link:

Ramona Martinez sparked conversation when she proposed a project to incorporate or create new iconography for a cadre of contemporary saints, perhaps in a small book of saints. I mentioned that my son, for a student project some 15 years ago, photographed various saints he imagined in the urban landscape of New Haven. Borrowing the iconography of the Virgen de Guadalupe, he printed the photos on labels of prayer candles. Michael Swanberg and Ramona held up their own pillar candles – one for Dr. Fauci and one Ramona created for “Our Lady of The Bridge.” Like minds….

Yolanda Merrill, expanding on Ramon’s idea to in some way sanctify iconic figures (e.g., nurses) or worthy individuals, suggested that we explore gratitude as a post-2020 concept. Janet Eden also applauded the idea of celebrating patron saints that saw us through the pandemic – and the Trump presidency.

Our project director, Garrett Queen, encouraged us to let concept and content drive form and structure, not the other way around – but the 3-D retablo that Ramona showed us did have me thinking outside the book, and then back inside. You all might want to google retablo It’s story art, usually painted on a scrap of tin, thanking a patron saint for his or her intervention in a personal crisis. A small book of saint stories in the tradition of these?
Handcrafted St. Francis 3D Retablo Frame

This is all to say that even though we are still hampered by coronavirus protocols, we can be conceptualizing together – sharing and riffing off of each other’s ideas, sketches, links. We don’t have to wait for the quarantine to be over.
I’ll ask Garrett to set up a blog for exchanging ideas on the Book Arts page so that we are less likely as individuals or as a collective to let the creative listlessness of 2020 creep into 2021. And the CC will set up a pitch party sometime in March when members can propose more and altogether different ideas, or take this start of a project concept further.

Thanks again for showing up and for the stimulating discussion — and welcome Ginna, Stephen and Ramona!


On Thu, February 15 Bonnie Bernstein wrote:
Here’s a love poem you all might want to read per our conversation about a possible focus for the member project — quite the Whitman-esque celebration of countless ordinary worthies!

Project Organization Notes

2021 Collaborative Project Pitch Guidelines

Project Proposals:

Proposal by Ramona Martinez

(a variant on Ramona’s original Saints proposal)
Proposal by Bonnie Bernstein

Proposal by Laura Chessin

Literary Anniversaries in 2021 (for project consideration)

More Links of Interest:

Alan Birch’s Covid Saints Series

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