Is a Book an Object? Author Sharon Kallis Reflects on the Publication of "Common Threads"

by: EJ on 10/08/2014

Sharon Kallis, author the newly released Common Threads: Weaving Community through Collaborative Eco-Art, just picked up her books from the courier and shares her thoughts with us about this weighty moment!


Yesterday I went to  the courier’s to pick up  a missed delivery.  I then walked home from the bus stop carrying my first box of books. Twelve books equals seventeen pounds; the weight of my accomplishment registered, I think for the first time.

There is an irony here that should be pointed out -- as a visual artist, I have gone out of my way to figure out how to derive an income from my work that is not based in object-making or participating in a consumer cycle. And here I am trudging down the street with this seventeen-pound box of objects. But is a book an object?


 I made this comment to a friend last night and he said wisely, "a book is not an object, a book is potential." So now I  sit and look at this beautiful box of potential on my studio table.  These stunning books with my name on the cover!


Flipping through Common Threads feels like reliving the best moments of the last 10 years; the techniques I have learned, and now share with others; the stories of projects accomplished, communities I have worked with and the many  voices that ring out through the pages. Another friend who was very present through the writing process was thrilled to see the book completed and said I would be changing the world one reader at a time -- a lofty goal, but such a great thought, and again, that potential that exists in a book... 


One of the interviews in the book is with Oliver Kellhammer, a man I greatly admire and continue to learn from, and in my interview with him he  talks about the role of the artist in community and says, “it is not about the objects we make, but about the influence we have...” And this rings very clearly for me right now. Perhaps the influence I can have has just grown beyond my ability to quite comprehend just yet. Because that is what books do for us: They inspire us, connect us to each other, and open up new ways of being. They offer potential.

The concept of having written Common Threads feels less surreal now that I can hold it in my hands “like an object,” and yet it does feel like it offers a  new world -- for me as a new author, and hopefully for future readers who are inspired to discover the material  potential in their own backyards and neighbourhood parks. I feel so honoured to have worked with New Society Publishers on bringing this book into the world! As an eco-artist, my practice is rooted in making things that  biodegrade so  I am not worried about what I leave in my wake. This is likely the least ephemeral thing I have ever created, and I couldn't be happier to have such a book to carry into the future, but maybe I will just carry one or two, and not  twelve at a time.



Sharon Kallis will be launching her new book Common Threads: Weaving Community through Collaborative Eco-Art at the Vancouver Public Library on November 10th at 7:00 p.m.  Click here for more information.



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