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Temple of Himself: Artistic Object Lesson

– Posted in: Collage & Montage Creativity Inspiration Monday Memes Surrealism Wood Engravings


Whenever he revisits something he believes he once understood – an idea, a book, someone’s life – he finds that not only has the thing changed, but the terms upon which he understood the thing have themselves changed, or disappeared, or lost their meaning. He no longer understands.

Moreover, he no longer understands the terms upon which he once understood. They are as opaque and unfathomable as road signs in a foreign alphabet. If those terms led him in the past to make art, he no longer understands it. It is meaningless now, a skin he once shed.

So he falls back upon what he believes (he hopes) has never changed: himself.

Temple Of Himself by Eric Edelman

Copyright © 2004 by Eric Edelman. All rights reserved.


NOTE: Temple of Himself is a triptych box work, in which the left-side and right-side box sections of the triptych are hinged so that they can fold over and completely conceal the center box section. When the triptych is closed, the backs of the left and right sections are visible. The story in this blog post is printed and mounted under glazed frames on the backs of the side sections, and can be read from the left to the right side sections.


“Himself” becomes a rock to which he clings, a home he returns to innumerable times, the sole image in his art, with variations yet in essence remaining the same: the selfsame same self.

Though he continues to make art, he no longer questions the impulse to do so. He neither questions nor plans, now or in retrospect. Whatever he makes just is. It is its own reason, its own terms. If he were ever to question why he does it, he would stop doing it. Above all, he wants to continue making art, so he has discarded all pretense of even trying to understand it.

Little by little, his art continues to be about him, to resemble him, to become him. His art mirrors and echoes him: his face, his voice, his moods. It doubles for him. He gathers it about him and forms a shell from it to surround and contain him. To clothe himself. To protect himself.

The shell becomes his temple and his world. He is its high priest, its king, and its sole subject. He gives of himself to build and adorn it, and he continues to give. He gives unceasingly. He does nothing but give. The shell grows as he diminishes.

Eventually, when someone else first opens the shell, they find its interior covered endlessly with images of the same man – and uninhabited.

(All artwork & descriptions created & copyright © by Eric Edelman. All rights reserved.)

6 Comments… add one

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6 comments… add one
Kristin @ Meanbean April 18, 2011, 12:33 pm

This is a beautiful work!

Eric Edelman April 18, 2011, 4:20 pm

Thanks, Kristin! I’m happy to hear that you like it. And thanks for visiting. (P.S. Like your blog a lot. Blogs like yours that emphasize art or handicraft are fun and interesting. The beaded cell phone case is a great piece!)

Tomas April 18, 2011, 1:14 pm

I like this. You portrayed the silence that I’m facing at a moment. You showcased my temple so to speak. That was as lovely as the challenging.

Eric Edelman April 18, 2011, 4:33 pm

Thanks, Tomas. I felt this piece very deeply as I was making it. And I suppose that that was because I felt the same feelings, the same challenges, as the imaginary artist in the work. It is a challenge and a risk that I suspect every artist faces at some time or other, some artists more than others. And I was experimenting with a belief I’ve held for a long time: that the real thing an artist deals with is his belief in himself. On one level, any artist’s work is like a solidified piece of self-belief: if the artist did NOT believe in his right and ability to do art, the art would not exist. Therefore, the art is material evidence of the artist’s self-belief. But when does belief in oneself become obsession with oneself? That was the inspiration that gave birth to this piece.

Ollie McKay's April 19, 2011, 7:12 am

Wish I was more “crafty and artsy” ~ I love your things and seeing what is you new! This display piece is wonderful ~ looks like something my grandma did years ago for my Papa’s war collections! Very cool! Happy Tuesday to all!

Eric Edelman April 19, 2011, 12:22 pm

Thanks for your kind compliments! I’m glad you like the piece and that you came to visit. And your comment that it looked like an arrangement of memorabilia by your grandmother was spot-on — that is exactly part of the feeling I was striving for in this composition. Thanks, & please come again! P.S.: Your blog is lots of fun, and I enjoy visiting it.

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