PhD Birth was taken in September 2011 shortly after I had finished writing my doctoral thesis in art history. Once all of the hard cerebral toil was over, I felt it necessary to give my PhD a life, to make it into a physical object and release it into the world. After printing three copies of the document, I bound them all lovingly in bright red wool. As intended, two of these copies were cut open by examiners to highlight the ideas discussed within.
One copy remained with me and remained unopened. I have always loved studying and I love my PhD, but how can one communicate love to ideas that have been translated into words? I also wanted my thesis to become contained somehow, and useful, after so many years of being boundless, complex and abstract. So I created an object to love and to use. I carried it around with me, knelt on it in prayer, gave it to my daughter to play with, and even slept with it for a few nights.
The whole process of writing a PhD felt like a very long pregnancy, the preparation for a predicted cataclysmic event that, when it comes, actually does not stop time and does not alter all courses of all lives. What followed the event – in this case the completion of my PhD, but equally after meeting my partner and the birth of our children – was balance, subtle but at once miraculous balance, that finally, and resolutely acknowledged my body to be equally as revealing as my mind.