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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Glen Owen: Interstices

By Conrad Zagory, Jr.

Those who have had occasion to view Glen Owen’s work will have little trouble identifying the lineage of his present sixteen-piece collection of black and white line drawings. Over the years there has been, simply put, a process of miniaturization resulting in an ever-increasing complexity: drawings become writings; scripts that organize themselves in our variously differing human minds which somehow make sense to us. It is especially so for those who can distinguish from among writing systems, past and present: Sumerian, Egyptian hieroglyphs, Sanskrit, Hebrew, Chinese, Linear A & B from Crete, Runic, Japanese, Mayan, Korean, and so on. Furthermore, these varying, quasi-scripts are to be found in the interstitial tissue of these drawings: those areas which define the borders between geometric patterns, sometimes separating and other times, melding one into another, especially where we find circular as opposed to linear delineations. We have been presented with a Borgesian Library, infinite in concept and limited only by the size of the drawing.

What is of import to Glen is his long-held conviction that the sacred, the holy, resides in these interstices, the blank areas encompassed by the lines, much as the Taoist, who instructs us that it is the emptiness contained in the vessel that is the proper focus of our meditations. It is here we find the spirit of the creative force, and art as a universal language. It is why we are entranced by Indian miniatures, Korean celadon, or Japanese sumie, without belonging to any of those nationalities or traditions.

Two other themes should be noted: colorization and rebirth. Glen would describe himself as an abstract expressionist and colorist, and ultimately as sui generis. He has begun a new series: the same architecture but now colorized. But more importantly, we should realize that we almost lost this dear man to illness, had it not been for the ministrations of his cardiologist, Dr. Bob Scott of Springfield, Ohio. For seven months, Glen looked like death warmed over, so this series is also an expression of his renewed appreciation for life. Painting, drawing, in effect what we call art, is for him not a matter of choice, but a compulsion. His return from the abyss, while disappointing to those collectors who await a sudden jump in value with his demise, has allowed him to indulge that passion. And thus, it is with profound gratitude, that Glen has dedicated the first series of sixteen to Dr. Bob and his wife, Jane Scott.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Nigerian Security's Arrest of Dr. Okey Ndibe

We, Writers Without Borders, wish to express our profound dismay at the arrest and interrogation of the Nigerian academic and journalist Dr. Okey Ndibe, as well as the seizure of his passports by agents of the Nigerian State Security Services (SSS).

We consider this despotic action as an attempt to muzzle the voices of dissent to the government of President Goodluck Jonathan. We believe that such acts have no place in our democracy.

We urge President Goodluck Jonathan to quickly put an end to this shameful act by returning Prof. Ndibe’s passports forthwith. We want to believe that this was a case of overzealous agents stuck in the mindset of the past when lawlessness was the way of carrying out the business of the nation. If the goal of the security agency is to frighten writers into silence, let it be known to them that this will have an opposite effect. Nigerian writers will continue to exercise their right to free speech. They will continue to advocate for a decent life for all Nigerian citizens. They will continue to oppose the culture of impunity and lawlessness that breed corruption, injustice, and insecurity.

We consider the harassment of Okey Ndibe as a harassment of us all. We hope that the Nigerian government will pull back from this descent into the abyss. We have been there before and we all know that it did not work out well for both the oppressed and the oppressors.


Obiwu & Rudolf Okonkwo
For: Writers Without Borders