The general title of this series, The Midden Heap Project, comes from pages 182-184 of James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake. In it, the artist Shem, an “alshemist” and a stand-in for Joyce himself, has an enormous rubbish heap. The magpie list of objects is by turns, familiar and obscure, manufactured and biological, hilarious and nostalgic. Shem’s midden heap becomes a metaphor for artistic creation as he transforms the objects that litter his house into art.
I am in the midst of making a collage per page of Finnegans Wake and a series of artist’s books based upon the collages. The artist’s books contain scanned, digitally manipulated versions of the collages. The work is a portal for grasping Joyce’s most enigmatic text. The process of construction parallels Joyce’s collage-like methodology and the imagery responds to the Wake’s content.
paper, digital ink, pva
About the artist:
Born in New Haven, Connecticut, Heather Ryan Kelley is a professor of art at McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana where she teaches painting and book arts.
In 2009 she established The Midden Heap Press. The press is devoted to prints, artist’s books, and collaborative ephemera related to James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake.
Her work is in the collections of Cornell University, the New York Public Library’s Berg Collection, The Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center of the University of Texas, and the State University of New York at Buffalo.