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My only drink is meaning from the deep brain,
 What the birds and the grass and the stones drink.

— Seamus Heaney, The First Words

Several boxes of the journals, correspondence, and compulsive, apparently incessant, scribblings of Eleanor Hugins (1925-1998), the only child and orphan of early Colorado homesteaders, came into my possession a few years ago. My fascination with the outpourings of her polymathic and possibly psychotic mind is playing out in an ongoing series of collages and artist books that I call Gray Matters. The mother of five children (four suicides) and survivor of a brutal divorce, she was an insatiable reader and note-taker, cranky letter writer, who found no piece of paper or matchstick too tiny to cover with her almost illegible observations, calculations, and schematics precariously linked by arrows and iconic doodles.

Weeding my way through the bits, pieces, and piles of papers, notebooks, and journals, I’ve been both attracted and repelled by the yellowing, coffee-stained, ash scorched paper landscape of her encyclopedic and voracious mind. Why? Obviously, who she was resonating in some strange way with who I am. Deconstructing her interior landscape, through the process of tearing up her papers to create collages anew of them, has become a compelling form of mapmaking and an immensely creative, metaphoric journey for me.

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