Founding Father's Altered Text



When I heard this Fresh Air episode about religion and the Founding Fathers, I was blown away to hear about Thomas Jefferson physically cutting out passages from the Bible and pasting them into a new blank book--recreating the text as to how he thought it should read. Many book artists do exactly this. Their medium is book and text. Jefferson's Bible reminded me first of the most well-known example of what is called an "altered text": A Humument by Tom Philips. In that work, the artist drew on and blocked out words in a victorian novel so that a new narrative emerged.

I went on a hunt to find images of the Jefferson Bible and was AGAIN blown away to see these stunning pictures from Alexandria Searls, a photographer who beautifully captures Jefferson's actual cut-up Bibles which are preserved (thank goodness) at his home in Monticello. I haven't found any images yet of the book in which he pasted the passages, though I believe he did publish his version of the Bible which you can now purchase via Amazon. of course.

You can see the full exhibit of Alexandria Searls' photographs of the cut-up Bible at the Monticello website. Alexandria graciously allowed me to publish a few here on the blog.

Just came across this other blog post on more cut-up texts http://blog.whitneyannetrettien.com/2009/03/thomas-jefferons-cut-up-bible.html. cool.