53947 is an ‘omniscient’ typeface designer and resident of a world viewable through panes of resonant window glass, known to me as ‘worldview.’ He lives in a shared space with a dense, orange cat named six. six does not belong to 53947, but the two benevolently coexist, assisting each other without expectations.
Welcome to the world of lewis lain.
This world made itself known to the Chicago artist fifteen years ago, when he found an old window in the alley behind a rehab building. He recalls: i brought it home to use as a canvas and discovered a vivid picture appeared in its glass. Mesmerized by the phenomenon, i captured what i saw in the glass with layers of recycled cardboard and acrylic paint, then promptly returned to the alley to collect the rest of the window/canvasses remaining.
We could report about lain in the usual way, with a little about his background, his artistic style, his exhibitions. But his words are as fascinating as his visual art, and Orca’s interpretations would only distort the meaning, so we will let him relate the genesis of his current existence.
For fifteen years 53947 has communicated with me by freezing images in over 200 windows. Sometimes they are curated visions of his world and its inhabitants, sometimes reflections of mine. In the resulting paintings, there is always a story to be shared and often a lesson to be learned that i feel improves me as a human being.
His paintings represent a process of simultaneous discovery, both of this new world and his own art.
It took nearly a dozen paintings to realize i was looking into another world. My eyesight on resonant window glass burned holes into the fabric between our worlds. 53947 calls these holes “eyes” and they act as a gateway for the cycle of coexistent exchange—a fact that enabled my initial contact with 53947.
The painting on our cover, “lodestar,” is the culmination of a portion of that discovery process. Lodestar is a “pocketcity,” a product of the famed inventor, 32843.
An explorer named 76293 was so overwhelmed by the sudden birth of undiscovered territory, he ventured into the foothills with only inadequate ropes and a prototype pocketcity—a gift from 32843. He had made it well into the middle of the range and was descending a high peak when his frayed ropes finally broke, dropping him onto the floor of the valley below where he landed squarely on the pocketcity in his pocket. The top structure of the unit had been compacted and the resonant insides quickly seeped-out, soaking the alkaline soil of the valley. The resulting reaction would cause the pocketcity to swell into a full-sized, functional city. It is named lodestar and it becomes an ideal way-station for travelers navigating the range—the top ten floors of the central structure have fused into a beacon of guiding light.
There are four murals in Oak Park, Illinois on the CTA’s Green Line embankment that actively tell a worldview story in a permanant public setting. lewis lain has also created two Lenormand oracle decks. One is called “Turned Earth Little Lenormand” and is a semi-autobiographical love letter to the Midwest, using images rendered from pictures of a trip to his father’s homeland to bury his mother in their shared grave. “Worldview Lenormand” is designed with narrative and images from his paintings and interaction with 53947. (Lenormand, derived from an eastern European divination tradition, is gaining traction across the globe for being an easier to access alternative to tarot as it allows the reader to focus on smaller, open-ended questions.)
As the inhabitants of worldview have never appeared to be gendered, i have taken the liberty of removing traditional Lenormand “the man” and “the lady” cards and replacing them with “the self” and “the other,” which i feel not only capture that energy, but ultimately (and importantly to me) make this deck nonbinary.
There is, of course, much more to know about lewis lain and his art. He invites people to contact him through his website http://www.lewislain.com and visit his Lenormand offerings at http://www.etsy. com/shop/lewislain. Also find him on the web at http://www. facebook.com/lewislain; http://www.instagram.com/lewislain; and at http://www.youtube.com/lewislain.