Casey Cripe has over 3,000 books in his personal library. You might say that’s rare these days for someone under thirty-five who can understand and operate a Kindle, but reading has turned out to be a major part of his work.
With a natural fascination of both science and mythology – and a bookshelf simply not big enough to satisfy these interests – Cripe spent a good part of the past five years hanging out at the San Francisco Public Library reading. Without really knowing where it might lead, he also began to build a collection of scanned textbook images there that played off this curiosity.
This Saturday from 7-10pm, Mirus Gallery in SoMa will showcase “One is All is One”, featuring nearly forty pieces of Cripe’s multimedia artwork that have finally come together from many of the images he’s collected.
Drawing inspiration from science fiction and graphic illustration, the pieces are meant to be read from left to right, like a comic strip, to form a larger narrative about humanity and evolution.
In some ways, the culmination of this exhibit has been a response to the mysteries Cripe has wondered about since he started working as an artist.
“Around that time, I began wondering where the guidebook to life was, where’s the manual to being human on Earth in the 20th century?” he said. “I don’t have a copy of it, of course, I looked, but there’s nothing really like that and that always stuck with me.”
Cripe’s work, which he refers to as his “one-and-forever Magnum Opus”, blends elements of human physiology, astronomy and other universal themes in cyclical patterns that look a little like something you might find in a guidebook to existence.
Beyond his artwork, Cripe has also set out to work on a curatorial project (not surprisingly, involving books) with the Long Now Foundation, a cultural institution supporting long-term thinking, to build out their Manual of Civilization library, which will house roughly 3,500 books deemed most significant to sustaining or rebuilding civilization.
Eventually, he’d like to see his work collected in a similar fashion or have it be developed into an interactive comic book that can be added to the information environment he’s seen expand in recent years and growing up in Silicon Valley.
“Comic books activate your mind in a very specific way where the gaps in between the panels offer you the opportunity to create something of a story that’s not necessarily there,” he said. “The idea is also that hopefully these things will be big enough and beautiful enough and compelling enough to inspire other people to do it.”
“One is All is One” will be on display at the Mirus Gallery from August 15 – September 12. Visit mirusgallery.com to RSVP to the Opening Reception.