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PhD cover art

A Topography of Woman WIPI am glad to see that people like the cover of my PhD dissertation and ask questions about it. Here is the story…

I wanted the cover to reflect the nature of what my dissertation is about. I wanted something hand-made, thinking of the parallels between knowledge work and craft. I also wanted it to represent interconnectedness and variety, something that would give a picture of the blogosphere, where fragments coming from different weblogs are connected into a bigger whole. I wanted it to be personal and passionate.

After many photos on Flickr (where else? 🙂 I found “A Topography of Woman“, a work-in-progress photo of a textile art by Arlee Barr, a Canadian mixed media artist. It was more than a pretty visual, it came with a story that I could connect to in so many ways.  A piece of it:

A work in SLOW process!!!!!! I’m really liking the heavy layering of paint and texture lately in my art, and have been working on this piece for almost 6 months. It keeps adding to itself, changing colours and feel, and i think is finally in a background state as i much as i care/want to have it.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about family, relationships, legacies and history. What comes from within us that was shaped by our familial circumstances isn’t always obvious. The colour of the eyes and a liking for cottage cheese, a certain gesture of the hand or a timbre of laugh is not all that connects us, that makes us part of that circle. I think it’s an intangible quality that is just *there*, and i recognize these traits as an inherited (in the sense of nurture)/genetic (biologically speaking)/cultural (the “style” of upbringing, not whether you are brownwhiteblackgreen catholicprotestantevangelical canadianirishswahili) sameness.

It’s the Feminine in my family that most stands out–of course, there are men in the family, but it’s the women i remember the most, as being the power, the powerhouses, the ones who delegated the power. My lineage is Matriarchal in all respects but for surnames.

I read Arlee’s journal: it was fascinating to see blogging about work-in-progress in the area so different from those covered in my own weblog and weblogs of others studied in the dissertation. Yet, it had many parallels – stories to connect with, getting insights into the essence of the work and tricks of the trade, learning about the person behind the text and the community around it…

PhD cover, zoomSo, I kept my fingers crossed (because at that moment I couldn’t think of anything else for the cover 🙂 and contacted Arlee. She agreed. The artwork had changed since the photo I wanted was taken; the one used for the cover is of a later version, so you can have the fun of exploring the changes.

And, the thing that I love most is that this is a visual example of how blogging works: it is about connecting with people from far away, crossing boundaries between different domains, being able to build on someone’s work in progress in your own work and then telling stories about it 🙂

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • arlee June 5, 2009, 18:32

    Lilia, this is one of the proudest “borrowings” for me—-to be “connected”, in many senses, because of the internet, to other artists and writers, to share and to learn. Thank YOU for this!

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