My daughter, Michela West, had the honor of being chosen to participate in the Boston-Strasbourg High School Student exchange in the summer of 2010, which was just before the start of her junior year at Boston Latin School. It was also the start of a turbulent time of her life fraught with the anxiety — and excitement — of her journey through adolescence into adulthood, with issues of identity and intense emotion. Psychology references Hamlet’s Ophelia in describing the plight of contemporary adolescent girls; they are brimming with passion, though not sure how to reconcile their emotions with the restrictions of society.
I did my best to help my daughter navigate through these past six years and situations that have sometime felt like a labyrinth, a spiral or a game-board spinner. My love for her has always been my compass.
In May, Michela graduated cum laude from the Honors College of the University of Massachusetts, Boston. She holds two undergraduate degrees, one in Communications and one in Studio Art. This book is about her journey.
In developing the style and format for this book, I took inspiration from the journal of Georg Daniel Flor, particularly with navigation of a journey as my underlying theme. I also adapted stylistic elements such as use of sepia tones and leather cord.
I am most pleased that my daughter feels that she can identify with the completed piece and believes that it resonates as a true reflection of how together we navigated the past six years.
What was most interesting about Daniel Flor? I am infatuated with ephemera, historic documentation, all matter of books and paper. I love the look and feel of his illustration and calligraphic writing. And of course his is such an amazing story — as one who is also fascinated with story — a unique window into time and place.
How does this project relate to your studio practice? As to how this has influenced my studio practice — that really remains to be seen. Deb Putnoi and I ended up really helping each other, so the project was a catalyst for deepening our working relationship. Deb and I were both exploring how we can develop ideas of personal story in innovative ways and we both ended up with LOTS of “spare parts” when we finished. We are both planning to use those parts to develop future work using themes and imagery from the Ex Libris project.