Monthly Archives: June 2012

Allison Cortson – Dust Paintings

See on Scoop.itThe Art of Everyday

 LitCouture recently highlighed the work of “Lint Lady” Slater Barron, who makes portraits and sculptures out of dryer lint. Allison Cortson is in a similar line of work, but her medium is an even less-desired household product: dust. Los Angeles-based Cortson was inspired by her realization that “matter is mostly empty space and is held together by an observer experiencing it” and decided to create portraits of people in their home environments using dust, an ephemeral and untapped artistic material that “arrives in our homes as a remnant of our own existence and degeneration from decaying particles from our bodies and objects.”

The first step of her process is to photograph the subject in his or her home. Then, over the course of several months, Cortson collects the dust from that home through the subject’s vacuum bags; laborious work considering that these dust paintings can be up to 70″ x 100″ in size! The human subjects are painted realistically using oils – to emphasize that it is their presence that renders meaning to the space and matter that surround them – and their background environments are made from the collected dust, which is sprinkled onto the canvas and positioned by Cortson using a brush. Upon completion, the dust is coated with an acrylic sealer, creating a unique portrait of a life, such as “Eric Descending the Staircase” (2011, sampled above).

See on

These paintings remind us of one of our favorite pieces by fiction writer, Richard Brautigan. This piece, entitled “Lint” appeared in his memorable story collection, Revenge of the Lawn:

“I’ve haunted a little this evening by feelings that have no vocabulary and events that should be explained in dimensions of lint rather than words. I’ve been examining half-scraps of my childhood. They are pieces of distant life that have no form or meaning. They are things that just happened like lint.”


Pencil Tip Sculptures & “The Keys of Paris”

See on Scoop.itThe Art of Everyday

Connecticut carpenter Dalton Ghetti takes a new spin to sculpture, using his medium as his subject. He has been making intricate miniature sculptures from the graphite at the tip of a pencil for over 25 years now, though he has never sold his pieces, only giving them away to friends as gifts.

This process began for Ghetti as a child, when he would carve his friends’ names into the sides of pencils as presents. He then moved on to wooden sculptures of a larger scale, but liked the challenge of extremely small works. After experimenting with everything from chalk to soap to tree bark, Ghetti settled on graphite as his medium of choice. Without the assistance of a magnifying glass, Ghetti makes his pencil tip sculptures using just a razor blade, sculpting knife, and sewing needle. “I use the sewing needle to make holes or dig into the graphite. I scratch and create lines and turn the graphite around slowly in my hand. Also, I never buy the pencils, my friends are always giving me them to sculpt or sometimes I use ones I find in the street,” he explains.

As would be expected, Ghetti does face the inevitable problem of the pencil tips breaking. They are, after all, fragile materials to work with! Most of his sculptures take several months to complete, and some of the more intricate several years, but Ghetti keeps all of the pieces that break during that process, displaying them atop styrofoam blocks, a tribute to the patience and time devoted to each, and the life he once breathed into them.

To date Ghetti has carved about 100 sculptures, as well as maintaining a ten-year project he began in 2002 that was inspired by the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center: “When September 11 happened I was in tears all day and couldn’t do much for a while. I decided to make a teardrop pencil carving for each of the people who died in the attack, about 3,000. Since 2002 I have carved one every day, it takes me under an hour. When I’m done they will form one big tear drop. It will take me about 10 years but it will be worth it.”

For your viewing pleasure, these pencil tip sculptures are paired with Michael Gessner‘s “The Keys of Paris,” an original poem published on

“The lovers write their names on locks

then fasten them to the black chain-link fence

on both sides of the Pont des Arts,

that wooden footbridge over the Seine.

There are rows & rows of lovers’ locks,

the chromium latches glint in the sun,

& the lovers, in a grand gesture of fidelity,

toss their keys into the river, & depart.

The keys lay on the bottom, sometimes turning

in the wreathes of the current, or they may remain

still for years, or they may roll,

crossing over one another.”

Poems of Michael Gessner have appeared in Amaranth ReviewAmerican Literary ReviewChiron ReviewThe Journal of the American Medical AssociationNimrodOxford MagazinePacific ReviewPatterson Literary ReviewSycamore Review,Wisconsin Review, and others.  Poems that appeared in his fourth title, Beast Book, (Blazevox, 2010) have been described as “lively and smart and musical,” (Robert Pinsky.)

Book Igloo Held Together By Natural Forces And Knowledge

See on Scoop.itThe Art of Everyday

This “igloo” installation piece by Colombian artist Miler Lagos is constructed entirely of books – but not just any books. Lagos salvaged these books from the library of a US Naval base and fittingly titled it “Home”, as it is meant to represent:

“Encompassing knowledge and mind adventure while the body remains under a comfortable, predator-free structure.”

The structure is 9 feet tall and made without any kind of glue or paste. The books are placed strategically so that they rely on each other’s natural properties to shape the igloo. The pages face outward, creating a predominantly white exterior that resembles an igloo, with blocks of color from the book bindings poking through. The spines, sharing the titles of the former library books, face inward, to be read and appreciated as a visual maze of knowledge.

Nearly half of the structure is notable, however, for not even being there. The rest of the igloo substitutes bricks for books – a work in progress held in the moment. Check out more mindblowing images of the book igloo.

And speaking of books lined up, check out Allison Peters’ marvelous poem, “Shelved” which originally appeared on LitCouture last year:

In a row like that, they look like a painting,
the books, an abstract about liveliness,

delicacy (colors, textures). In all my time
—trying so hard to be both those things—
to find I am not (except for those

few undocumented moments of
human wholeness,
which, because no one can assert them,
of course are made of magic).

Lying alone below the sky, sometimes
you feel inspiringly small. Like
there are forces above you, about you,

and there are. The books all in a row, and I am
watching, mouth open, as if to speak.

Allison Leigh Peters won an Academy of American Poets Prize in 2010. Her work has appeared in theMichigan Quarterly ReviewBurner MagazineUp the StaircaseConnotation PressWomenArts QuarterlyOberon Poetry MagazineThird WednesdayAvatar Review, and elsewhere.

Bookish Things for Those with a Fetish for Books


Blogger Brenna Kalmer finds some of the strangest book-related items, including literary-themed condoms and newspaper roses, for her weekly Book Fetish series at BOOK RIOT.

Drunk Texts from Some Famous Authors


Authors drunk text too. From Shakespeare:

hey nonny nonny
alas and alack
i gotta go leak
I’ll brb…


Porn for Book Lovers


A photoblog dedicated to showcasing the world’s best-looking bookshelves, Bookshelf Porn should excite any hardcore reader.

New York’s Underground Book Club


Photographer Ourit Ben-Haim captures New York’s readers while on the subway. The books they’re reading range from Pulitzer prize winner A Visit from the Goon Squad to The Five People You Meet in Heaven.

A Very Novel Wedding


Congrats to Ben and Naly who tied the knot at Ben McNally Books (get it?) earlier this month, after meeting eight years ago in a library.

A Not-So-Secret NYC Bookstore


 “It’s a continuation of just me being a bookseller in the way that I want to be… If it’s all about money, there’s just better things to sell. Just sell crack. That’s a much better business.”

Bookseller Michael Seidenberg has moved his store into his apartment after his bookshop’s rent skyrocketed. He doesn’t seem to mind that people will soon invade his home.

English Major? “You’ll Never Get Anywhere With That”

Dear Marketing Lady,

Yeah, I’ve heard that. 

Well actually, I’ve just seen that sentiment expressed in gentler terms in Newsweek. English majors make less on average than almost any other major. I’ve heard various presidents say that it’s non-math majors like me who keep our country from producing the truly top-of-the-line killer robots we really need. And I’m okay with that.

I can’t defend the English major. But I do have a few words to say about the marketing major.

Marketing majors rely on two basic skills: being mean and knowing when boots are in style.

In true English major fashion, Ivy Grimes annihilates her marketing major opponent, who questions her choice of major. We approve.