Dangerous Books


The temptation to suppress frightening ideas is an equal-opportunity devil. Everyone with any moral character– regardless of their principles– sometimes desires to limit the traffic of certain ideas. Rare is the person who has enough faith in the public's thoughtful discrimination to willingly allow a volatile image or notion to be opened to others' scrutiny and consideration.  Of course our own judgment is impeccable.

The sculptures in this series speak to both the power and the danger of ideas and of art. They might just as easily be the icons of the censors as symbols of freedom that the blasphemers, pornographers and hate-peddlers that censors wish to silence. Though we have had two hundred years to think about our First Amendment, we have yet to convince ourselves that freedom of expression is indeed a protection rather than a threat. And so we still struggle with the vital question: where, after all, lies the real danger?

Committment to Freedom


Licentious Poetry

Civil Security

Eruption into Eloquence

Poisonous Books

Since Tim's original exhibition of this series, he created a similar series of books sculptures, called Poisonous Books, made from white supremist hate books in 2004.

When Tim's work appeared in the press in 2004 he received threatening hate mail and phone calls from anonymous persons around the U.S (see below).

Inspired by this project, the Holter Museum of Art has organized an excellent exhibition of similar works from 48 American artists responding to the books, entitled Speaking Volumes: Transforming  Hate. Tim has three pieces in the exhibition, which has toured many museums in the Rocky Mountains and will be touring nationally until 2014.

Race Mace

One True Faith

Inert Projectiles


White Book, Extra Bleach

Holmes Sculptures and the Hate Mail Story

Tim writes of his experience, April, 2004

 Read Tim's response to hate mail, in a guest editorial

I had been working on this series of sculptures made from hate books for a few months when a series of stories ran in Lee newspapers in Montana and Wyoming in April, 2004 about the racist group, including the original story about my using these books, along with another artist, Kate Hunt of Kalispell, to create art.

As soon as that story appeared I began to get hate mail from members of the group. When Montana Human Rights Network turned those messages over to the police, a routine they have become used to in their line of work, another story about the hate mail response to my sculptures ran in the Lee papers.

To my gratification, this article prompted a flood of support from around the country for me and the artworks. I also heard from a couple guys who have been monitoring the World Church of the Creator (WCC), including the intelligence officer from the prison in Chicago where Matt Hale, "Pontifex Maximus" of the WCC, is currently in prison.

The messages I received included veiled threats that were seemingly intended to be as frightening as possible while keeping the authors, who use aliases like 'Bro. "Snow" LeCates', safely anonymous. But apparently even their rallying cry, "RAHOWA!" (short for 'racial holy war') violates the law and sure enough, even anonymous web messages are traceable. As a result a local programmer followed their trails and apparently got their e-mail services shut down as the hate mail stopped, though I did get a string of harassing phone calls over the next few days.

A few days after the story, there appeared a letter to the editor about the story, accusing the papers of focusing on the art instead of the criminal theft of the books used in the artworks.

Turns out that the author of the letter was none other than a previous leader of the WCC, who must have known that years ago the books in question were actuallyawarded in a lawsuit to the Southern Poverty Law Center, who was unsussessful in collecting them.

The dialogue raised so far is exactly what art is good at doing. Art is not intended to give answers but to raise questions. Now that this has become an ongoing story, especially in Helena where most of the artworks are, I feel this is a good time to address the issues raised by these events in a community forum.

Excerpts from the hate mails I received:

"...long ago a man was found impalled, nailed, speard, and incased in glass. Then displayed in the center of town, for all to see, just where his traitorous ways brought him to be...Now that would be a piece of art to see...Natures Law will prevail, this planet is all ours RAHOWA!!!"

["RAHOWA" is short for RAcial HOly WAr.]

"This is one of many declarations of war against our religion. We will remain legal in the face of corruption, but once all legal means are denied, a war will be unavoidable. "

"Maybe you should try Afican culture and draw yourself in a cooking pot for the primate cannibals!...I believe that people reap what they sow and maybe one day you indeed will be eaten by the savages you probably call friends."

"I do know that right now you are an excellent jewish boot licker by this show of arrogance. More will be in contact with you. RAHOWA!!!"

...and still my favorite so far, a heart-warming tribute to pond scum everywhere:

"You, sir, are lower than pond scum - and I shall make an apology to all pond scum, for comparing them to you."

 Read the story of the original exhibition of Poisonous Books, Fall, 2004


RAHOWA Cocktail

White Vision Goggles

Timeless art for troubled times

Creative Commons Copywrite  •  2011 •  Tim Holmes Studio