Words on my Wall


I cannot believe my good fortune. Right now, any time of the day, I can view a contemporary masterwork in my own office.

An original work by Ann Hamilton (untitled) hangs just slightly to the left of my desk so that when I look up it catches my eye. It never ceases to delight me.

It has intrigued me from the first moment I saw it. What is it made from? First I thought wood or cork—then paper—then BOOKS.

It is made from old books!

Perfect for my office. A work of art made by repurposing old books that might have been thrown away—books with words flowing through them—perhaps science words or art words; words of philosophers or art historians; botanists or physicists; playwrights or poets. Written in English or French, Russian or Arabic—any of a hundred languages—more than 30 of them taught in the arts and sciences.

Just as words are embedded in this work and flow through it; words flow through the arts and sciences and inform and inspire all of our disciplines. They help us preserve the legacy of our scholars and artists, teach and motivate our students and keep discovery alive.

The piece is even more compelling to me because it is a glorious work made by a legendary artist who calls Ohio State and the arts and sciences home.

Lately, I see words about Ann Hamilton everywhere, chronicling her latest achievements and awards:

Ann Hamilton, professor, Department of Art, and Distinguished University Professor, commissioned to create a large public art installation on a new waterfront development in Seattle. It will become the centerpiece of Waterfront Seattle and is reported to have a $1 million budget.

The American Academy of Arts and Letters announced it will induct nine new members into the 250-person organization in mid-May, including internationally recognized artist Ann Hamilton.  Election is considered the highest formal recognition of artistic merit in the United States.

The Ann Hamilton Project Archive, being established in the Department of History of Art’s Visual Resource Library, will digitally archive a collection containing high-resolution images and videos from 35 of Hamilton’s art installations. They range from her time as a graduate student at the Yale School of Art to her current large-scale, multimedia installations exhibited worldwide.

And, I have a piece of her work—a piece of history-making art—on my wall.

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