Phillip Patterson is hand-writing the Bible.
Yes, the entire bible. The 1611 King James bible, to precise. The Columbia County resident hopes to complete it by next year, the book's 500th birthday.
What's all this about?
A mix of things, really.
Phillip Patterson says he wouldn't necessarily classify himself as a religious person. In fact, some days he veers more toward agnosticism. But he found himself wondering about the bible.
"It's probably one of the most important tomes of Western Civilization," he explains. "We swear on it , we damn people with it, but no one's really read it. We read passages of it, but that's it."
So he decided that the best way for him to really, truly understand this book would be to hand-write it himself, line by line, page by page. He started working on in August 2007, and is now working on the third volume of what he expects will ultimately be 8 or 9 volumes in total.
There's more, though.
Phillip has been living with AIDS since 1985. His illness has left him with compromised abilities, and he now lives in a retirement home in Philmont. He felt like the other residents just watched television all day. For him, that wasn't enough. He needed a project he could fully immerse himself in, something with meaning -- something he could still do even if his health further deteriorated.
Phillip had already been working for awhile when he met Laura Glazer. Glazer works at Albany Medical Center, where he was an outpatient.
She'd always had a strong interest in hand-written lettering and she was fascinated with his project. She started out wanting to know more about his craftsmanship but ended up spending more and more time with him because he's such an interesting person.
Laura has a background in photography (she attended the Rochester Institute of Technology) and eventually the two decided that she would document his work. When it's finally done, they hope to compile and publish a book.
Phillip is also hand-binding his volumes, inspired in part by Laura's work from a bookbinding class she took last year at the Albany Art Room. He ordered the supplies online and set about teaching himself binding methods too. He spends as many as 10 to 14 hours a day working on his project.
"This book project has changed me," he says. "It's kind of a Zen experience in many ways."
Laura and Phillip will be holding a "show and tell" of their work in progress, "The Serenity of Knowing," on Sunday, Feb. 28 at 11:30 following services at the First Congregational Church on Quail St. in Albany. They'll be showing off some of the hand-bound books along with a slide show documenting the process. The presentation is free and open to the public -- church attendance not required. For more information, call 482-4580.
You can also follow their progress on Laura's blog. Their collaboration was featured in a recent issue of Art and Understanding , a national magazine for the HIV-affected community that's based in Albany.
all photos by Laura Glazer
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