The Serenity of Knowing
Phillip began copying the 1611 edition of the King James Version of the bible in August 2007 and finished on May 11, 2013. He grew up hearing bible stories “but I came to discover there was more in the bible than I had been told. The only way to find out what was in it was to sit down and write it.”
He wanted to know what's in the bible, finding that there was “serenity in knowing.” The more he wrote and the more he found out about the bible, the more he was at peace. “There is a power in knowing—a power for yourself. I need that power to go on and die. I want to die knowing I know everything I wanted to know.”
His life is his art and Laura Glazer photographed both since meeting him in 2009 in a doctor's office where Phillip was a patient and she was working. Each time he would come in for an appointment they would visit, talking for as long as possible about art, bookbinding, his bible project, stamp collecting, and handwriting. It was after Phillip attended one of Laura's photography exhibits when he invited her to photograph his work. Initially tempted to say "no," she surprised even herself and said "maybe."
Once she entered Phillip's home and studio she immediately understood that he didn't want someone to just clinically photograph the finished pages of the handwritten bible. No, he was inviting her to photograph the art of his process and subsequently, the art of how he lives his daily life. This meant Laura spending the day looking and photographing over Phillip's shoulder as he steadily copied each word onto the large sheets of watercolor paper. Or a morning at St. Peter's Presbyterian Church where Phillip was a congregant for over 20 years. Since his work was portable, they could even spend an afternoon on the grounds of a sheep farm in Columbia County, which was where their most memorable image, Phillip in the Willows, was taken.
Even after Phillip bound the final eighth volume of the handwritten bible, the two continued their collaboration with Laura photographing his life and Phillip opening it up to her until Tuesday, August 12, 2014 when he passed away. He is deeply missed by his daughter, Morgan, family, friends, church community, and Laura.
The finished volumes were donated to St. Peter's in 2016 and a book of their work is forthcoming.
Read about this project and see more photos on the full project website here.