The Serenity of Knowing
Phillip began copying the 1611 edition of the King James Version of the bible in August 2007 and will finish in early 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 wants to know what's in the bible, finding that there is “serenity in knowing.” The more he writes and the more he finds out about the bible, the more he is 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 has been photographing both since she met him in 2009 in a doctor's office where Phillip is a patient and Laura 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 can mean Laura spending the day looking and photographing over Phillip's shoulder as he steadily copies each word onto the large sheets of watercolor paper. Or a morning spent at St. Peter's Presbyterian Church where Phillip has been a congregant for 20 years. Since his work is portable, they can even spend and afternoon on the grounds of a sheep farm in Columbia County, which is where their most memorable image, Phillip in the Willows, was taken.
Even after Phillip binds the final eighth volume of the handwritten bible, the two will continue their collaboration with Laura photographing his life and Phillip opening it up to her.
Read about this project and see more photos on the full project website here.