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I Saw Eternity the Other Night I by Raymond Papka, Unique Altered Book Sculpture



I Saw Eternity the Other Night I, 2011

Unique Altered Book Sculpture by Raymond Papka

FINE Condition

Sculpture Details:  ““I Saw Eternity the Other Night I” is a mixed media assemblage and encaustic painting that consists of an altered book, encaustic medium, oil pigment, images, paper, and found objects embellished with lock and key, constructed hinges, metal and common objects. The story underlying the “I Saw Eternity the Other Night I” altered book is described by Ray Papka as follows:

“I begin each piece of art that I do with a preconceived title so a story unfolds from my mind as the altered book evolves. I have always been intrigued by the concept of time, exploration, and travel. I remember as a child the priest of my parish telling us children “that God always was and always will be – he is eternity”. More recently I came across the following poem:

I saw eternity the other night

Like a great Ring of pure and endless light,

All calm, as it was bright;

And round beneath it, Time in hours, days, years.


This poem brought back that childhood memory and re-fertilized my mind into thinking about eternity and asking questions such as:

Is eternity a religious experience, a mathematical calculation, an extra-imaginary idea, a romantic expression, a place, a dream, a figment of our imagination, a duration of time?

Do we look forward toward eternity, backward on it, can we imagine eternity from the inside looking out, from the outside looking in, from the front, from the back….how is eternity conceptualized?

I decided to undertake this piece of altered book art entitled “I Saw Eternity the Other Night” to help me put form to the above thoughts. The central focus of this piece is the mirror images of a fictional lady peeking out of eternity from a niche in the book. She is encased in a metal framework that is emblazoned with a constructed, hypothetical time piece that might relate to eternity. The image on the top one-half of the book is a celestial abstraction that could relate to eternity. The images on the bottom one-half of the book involve realistic approaches to eternity – on the lower right are images of nerve networks in the cerebral cortex of the brain signifying how we might “think of or conceptualize eternity” and on the lower left is “part of a time piece with a spring emanating from it projecting to infinity/eternity”. At the top center of the book is a lock and key representing the fact that the concept of eternity is locked away and we seek a key to its understanding.  The knob on the right side is also a constructed, hypothetical time piece that might serve as an entry mechanism to the concept of eternity locked in the book. My altered books are embellished with objects to represent hinges and knobs to simulate the idea that they open, whereas in fact they are sealed shut.

The book sculpture measures 11.25” x 9” x 6”

 About the Artist:  Ray Papka creates incredible works of art from old books. His art is mixed media and combines assemblage, encaustic painting, the use of books and wood panels as substrates, and found objects as relevant embellishments. The beeswax of encaustic painting allows him to generate layers of information in his artwork, but keep it mysterious....almost dreamy and historical. He employs found objects to embellish a piece that is reinvented as a retrospective, pleasant and, sometimes, functional piece of art. His art takes many forms, but keeps a theme of changes, of layers, of old, of memories, of looking back and of reutilization. The artwork he produces ranges from subtle or mysterious to bold and brash.

Ray is a self-taught artist. He completed undergraduate studies at the University of Wyoming (B.S. Zoology and Chemistry) and graduate studies at Tulane University (Ph.D. Anatomy and Neuroscience).

Condition Report: The book sculpture is in FINE condition.

A photograph of the book sculpture appears in the photo section of the listing.