Wendy Fernstrum, “One Is the Holiest Number (#2)”

Cover of book with “Empty” spread. The “Empty” spread appears in the first third of the book.

“Emptied” spread. This spread appears in the last part of the book, using the same image from the “Empty” spread to suggest the relationship between and difference between the two, from a spiritual perspective.

The right side of the page printed with lines around a hole is cut to reveal “hole” printed on the page below as the book is fully opened.

Turning the page reveals “w” and changes “hole” to “whole,” suggesting the role of perception in shaping an experience.

When the top page is flat, the printed word appears as “alone,” and lifting the top page reveals “all one” on the page beneath.

Wendy Fernstrum
Marine on Saint Croix, Minnesota

One Is the Holiest Number (#2)
Letterpress, intaglio, relief
edition size of 25
28 pages
10″ x 20″ x .25″
10″ x 10″ x .5″

Artist Statement

One Is the Holiest Number (#2) is a meditation on the paradox of one: how each of us as an individual is distinctly one, yet simultaneously part of a unified whole. We each have unique fingerprints. We look and sound and feel uniquely different. How could we be so distinct and yet part of one? Are the cells in my body pondering these very same questions?

For over a decade I’ve been studying Buddhism, yoga, and Christianity. For me they are a trinity that joins together at the sense of being at one – with the divine, with each other, with the world around us.

At times the space between ALONE and ALL ONE can seem vastly impassable. Yet the shift into feeling AT ONE can happen in an instant. My work explores this in-between space where identity is constantly shifting and all that seemed certain loses form.

Using a combination of printing techniques, including intaglio, relief, and letterpress, One Is the Holiest Number (#2) communicates in many layers. Sparse text contrasts with drawings and backgrounds of interwoven lines. For the background, two layers of relief printing from linoleum rest beneath two layers of intaglio, bringing into sight an immense net or web that connects us yet otherwise remains unseen.

Some of the pages are cut short to reveal text on the page beneath, and when the top page is turned the word transforms into another. For example, “alone” shifts into “all one.” “Hole” becomes “whole,” and “atone” transforms into “at one.” Although illusion tries to persuade us otherwise, we are always One.