A Pilgrimage to Melville's Manhattan
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About the time that I was beginning my study of printmaking, my daughter Erin, had moved to New York to study forensic psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY. She lived at an apartment in the Bronx while she attended classes and worked as an HIV Case Manager for the Salvation Army. I visited her several times in New York, staying in her apartment up to 10 days at a time. She would leave early for work, and I would take the train down to Manhattan and knock around the city for a few hours until she could join me on the island.
Since Melville had spent so much of his time in Manhattan, it was natural that I would seek out those places on the island where he had once spent time. Wall Street was on any tourist map, but for me it was the scene of Bartleby, the Scrivener.While Battery Park was swarming with visitors peering at its many attractions, I traversed it in search of the Custom House where Melville worked for many years as a customs inspector. Of course, I took photographs.
From the start, this project had the feel of a photographic series, but strong literary elements suggested that a book would be the most appropriate context for the images. I began to study bookbinding as an art form, and the shape of the book began to take place slowly as I worked with the photographs and text. What results is a personal story of one man's interaction with literature and fatherhood.