The history of light in book form, in accordance with my life
When I was 17 years old my friends and I embarked on a three-month journey to cross the United States. Junior Gonzalez, Leif Richie and I packed in a small Volkswagen Golf, with Chris Becker at the wheel, and we left Chicago bound for San Francisco. The night before our trip we met up at Chris’ Wicker Park loft to get organized and go over our plans for the morning.
Upon arriving at Chris’ loft I was surprised to find a crazy naked man running around screaming and jumping from one piece of furniture to another. This was to be my first introduction to Chris’ longtime friend from Ann Arbor, Michigan—Leif Richie. Leif became the forthcoming trip’s resident wild man and added a world of life to next three months.
As I got to know Leif better I started to notice something in him I did not often see in others. Leif was very into the study of ritualistic processes and behavior; he would digest them and incorporate them into his own life’s actions. He would emulate and practice the idea that some things or experiences should be held sacred and therefore respected and honored for their nature.
"He was constantly collecting scraps and threading them into paintings and drawings as a way of articulating his experience."
One facet that stood out to me the most was Leif’s need to capture and document the events that he felt were spiritually valuable. As we traveled, Lief would log his experiences in a large art book that was made from an old nautical almanac. He was constantly collecting scraps and threading them into paintings and drawings as a way of articulating his experience. The book took on a the sacred life of a personal bible, documenting parts of his life that stood out - the parts of life with connections of greater power or emotion in which he felt a higher energy.
I was blown away by this practice and began emulating Leif in my actions and outlook, treating art as a higher form of documentation. I always had similar beliefs toward gaining a higher connection but I had never met anyone that articulated and studied it the way Leif Richie did. I took to documenting my experiences I deemed important or valuable in much the same way Leif would. I used my books to dig out meaning in events around me and to record my travels.
My books became a way to better understand myself, and art on a personal level became a tool with which I could digest my own life. Outlined here is a journal I worked in from 1997 to 2003, a span of six years. I worked on other books during this time as well, while coming back to this journal to record the events with which I felt a stronger connection. Below are some pages that I feel represent the events I experienced in a manner that gives credit to their impact on my life.
"... these times, this book and my friends were marked cornerstones in my life"
An emotion would sometimes open itself up to me while I worked with my books. I would sit down with the intent to build a memory, lay out all the respective scraps, sit back, and start to notice relationships that I had not seen until then. At times I had a feeling each page had a distinct order that need to be followed, as if there was a life within it which needed to be brought out. At these times, this book and my friends were marked cornerstones in my life.
Opening up to understanding art and applying it to personal life was a great realization for me. The pages of this book are personal statements and understandings that reference my life, and they hold value and weight in my experience. Everyone should take a bit of time to try and articulate or explore the meaning in their lives - you will be amazed at where it leads if you let it.
Thank you, - Mike Rusczyk