Carole P. Kunstadt (West Hurley, NY)
Sacred Poem LXXXIX
24 karat gold leaf, paper: pages from Parish Psalmody dated 1849; cut, altered & recombined; gilt.
2.5 x 5 x 6.5 in.
The Sacred Poem Series takes physical, material, and intellectual inspiration from Parish Psalmody, A Collection of Psalms and Hymns for Public Worship, published in 1849.
The pages of psalms are manipulated and recombined, resulting in a presentation that evokes an ecumenical offering – poems of praise and gratitude. The disintegrating pages suggest the temporal quality of our lives and the vulnerability of memory and history.
Visually there is a consistent and measured cadence to a page of psalms which is echoed in the often repetitive weaving or restructuring of the paper. In working with this aged text, embracing its inherent qualities while transforming the book’s pages, the paper itself gains significance through the process and merges with a new intent. Here the title page is the box’s cover which has a gilt underside. The oval box contains gilt spheres within — which are able to roll around suggesting playful possibilities. The gold leaf elevates and heightens the rich textural qualities presenting a sumptuous visual experience. The interplay alludes to the enticing presentation of illuminated texts historically.
The intended use, as well as the nature of a psalm as spiritual repository, both imply a tradition of careful devotion and pious reverence. The physical text and the utilization of gold evocatively and powerfully serves as a gateway to an experience of the sacred and the realization of the latent power of the written word. This process of interaction is played out visually in the piece, mimicking the internal experience.