Bread

I love Taproot magazine. I only have one issue though, borrowed from my sister's bookshelf, one that I read again and again. It is the Bread issue from November 2014.

Now, this is a funny issue to appear on my shore because I have a BUNCH of food allergies. One of them, one of my most severe, is to gluten. I am also allergic to eggs, soy, milk and almonds. This often means that even "bread alternatives" are out for me.

For a long time I didn't exactly read this issue, then. But, having borrowed it for a little bus reading and then finding it a perennial visitor in my bag, eventually I just gave in and devoured the whole thing. Cover to cover.

I do, after all, love to read.

The bread issue really got me thinking. First I thought about how much I miss bread. No kidding. All of these accounts of home, hearth and warm tummies against the winter cold weren't helping.

So what IS my bread? What is the thing that I kneed, the staple homesteading product of my hearth. The answer seemed obvious to this artist: paper. Paper is my bread.

Illustration has left artists like me in the dust in the digital age. Most illustrators who still work on paper (as far as I can tell) scan in their work and color, edit, or complete the project digitally. I have a whole other blog post about computers in illustration, and what computers do... but in the kind of work I like to create- there is no good reason WHY I don't work digitally. Except... paper. I love paper. I love my tools on paper. I am a believer in the sensory world, and making art that exists in, uses, the sensory world. Start to finish.

Just as these homesteaders write lovingly about dough rising, the magic of yeast, feeding their children, scooping soup, and the hearty, time-held tradition of baking bread... something I had the same joy in doing before that dreaded allergy test 4 years ago... I am committed to making art with real materials.

I believe because paper comes from living things (plants)- as a material we infuse it with experience, our own special magic, as we make. It's a very Like Water for Chocolate kind of belief, sure. When you read a book 2, 5, countless times... don't you begin to leave a trace of your experience in that book? When you send mail (ahem) you have written or made, something you have put your mark on, is it not like the yeast striking that chemical spark for the rising dough? Maybe the process we are embarking on by making materials and art out of nature is a longer process than the rhythm and steps of baking bread, sure. You certainly can't eat it (and how many of us artists have wished, when things are rough, that we could?)... but we want it to feed you, and your children, and your children's children.

We absolutely want our art, our stories, to live on. And best if they have been lovingly well-worn, lovingly passed- like soft leather, like a beloved baby blanket, like a family recipe, like that book- you know the one- that when you pick it up you remember all the selves you have been upon readings of the past... we want our arts to be passed hand by hand. Like a basket of warm bread.