Carole P. Kunstadt, Old Testament/Prophets I, Prophets II, 2012, gold leaf, tissue, thread, paper: pages from The Old Testament, 1904, 4 x 4 x 2; 4 x 4 x 1.325

The Old Testament Series takes its material, intellectual, and spiritual inspiration from my paternal grandfather’s The Old Testament, Part I & II, J. James Tissot, M. De Brunoff & Co., 1904.

Each of the Five Books of Moses has been cut down, stacked, and bound with strips of gampi tissue as individual repositories. The resulting simplicity of the singular blocks of paper and the tenuous quality of their containment contrasts sharply with the complexity of the stories recorded. The text and illustrations remain hidden with no access to the actual contents of the book. Yet the simple physical presence of these varying shapes emphasizes their literal, historical, and spiritual impact. The imprint on our consciousness, not the actual details of the stories is therefore emphasized. The now blunt cut edges of the sliced and recombined chapters often retain their gilt edging and fragments of decorative embellishments - a hint of the volume’s previously treasured and favored status. As a collective grouping, the five differing shapes offer a progression and a presentation wherein they are interrelated yet are also self-contained. The interplay of depth, volume, surface, and structure engage and intrigue while being non-specific. They stand as an inculcation of their transformation.

The Prophets’ surface is embellished and bound with 24 karat gold leaf, symbolically suggesting the contents which are believed to be a manifestation of God. These inspirational stories are contained in the underlying solid block of paper boldly formed yet tentatively restrained by strips of gold leaf and gampi tissue, presenting a compelling compilation. The resulting visual simplicity purposefully contrasts with the complexity of its content.

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