This response arrived from a friend -
". . . I've been following with interest and delight your progress with the boats, and not infrequently find myself musing on the project's many meanings. The images you've given us on the blog -- of the boats in ones and twos, arrayed in rank and file, in a nested circle -- have been gorgeously suggestive. I have grown fond of these small paper barques, their grace, their simplicity, their innocence. I'm charmed by the picture of them clamped with clothespins for gluing -- 'watching' them being made like that resonates through the word craft, as boat, as process, as workmanship.
It's when I imagine them installed as you described last week, rising up the wall, that I am most moved by your concept. Despite an undeniable innate dignity, there is also something comic about each boat, poignantly so; a delicacy that becomes almost cartoonish. To consider each unit on its own, it's hardly a boat at all, in a sense, as much the idea of a boat, a boat dream. All alone, there isn't one that could survive a bathtub, much less be seaworthy. And yet, to consider them together, they become mighty, a flotilla, as you've said, or an armada, as one of your blog crew suggested. And herein lies the great power of your poem (for I agree with you, the installation is fundamentally a song) as it reflects on the human condition.
Like your boats, we too are vessels, noble in our aspirations, but a bit comic as well when we propose our inviolability against the world, or imagine ourselves as self somehow ending at our skin. Our vulnerability belies such a claim. (Indeed, despite its balletic grandeur, there is something existentially disquieting about the film in this regard, a sense of each boat drifting in its own isolation, at the whim of the currents. To end up belly up under the ice is a grim fate.) It is not as separate vessels, but together, as a collective, united, ascending soul, that the boats achieve their highest nobility. . . and become something nearly indomitable. " Timothy Cahill