Students in FA 332 create artist book with absurd view of the Tri-Cities

Students in Fine Arts 332 along with their professor Peter Christenson collaborated on a 34-page artist book called Codex Absurdum. The book features artistic works, haiku, and exquisite corpse style collaborative art projects that explore a Tri-Cities absurdist parallel universe. Students with work featured in the book are Devin Simpson, Lemmy Jean Suter, Nathan Finke, Newt Ernst, Sarah Torres. 

“As I see it, Codex Absurdum is a celebration of the inherent strangeness of the unique culture of the Tri-Cities,” said Suter, a junior studying psychology. “Our economy is propped up by cleaning up nuclear waste and making wine, and the city itself is constructed in the middle of one of the least-hospitable parts of the Inland Northwest. By all means, the existence of the Tri-Cities and its culture makes no sense. Yet here we are – and for those reasons, an artbook centered around absurdity and the culture of the Tri-Cities seems like an excellent celebration of the culture.” 

Nathan Finke, a senior majoring in digital technology and culture with a minor in art stated, “Codex Absurdum represents an organized chaos between all of the artists involved. We all have our own unique voices represented in the codex, but we also worked toward a common goal with the theme. I think it represents both collaboration and self-expression within our small part of the art community.” 

Digital art piece featuring a Cougar/Deer hybrid animal on a hill. Around the animal are illustrations of nuclear waste.

A collaborative digital piece featured in Codex Absurdum

Most of the art featured in the book was created through collaboration. In some cases, one person chose the photography while another person embellished the photo with other design elements using Photoshop. In one collaborative piece, class member Devin Simpson, a senior majoring in creative writing, created a photo of a deer with the head of a cougar standing on a hillside. Then another student added their own unique touches including a sign that says, “Caution Radiation”, and a barrel with a radiation symbol on it. Simpson said his favorite part of the project was making all the artwork, coming up with the concepts and adding the mythology. “It was fun to share ideas and a fun experiment in collaboration,” he said.

The book is also sprinkled with haikus, such as this one: 

Our minds, we forget.  

The process of destruction. 

Allows creation. 

The students interviewed for this story all plan to continue in the field of design and all but one have plans to stay in the Tri-Cities after graduation. Simpson is planning to attend graduate school. Suter hopes to stay in the Tri-Cities after she graduates to work in the anthropomorphic art scene and continue her work in 2D art and costume fabrication. Finke plans to stay in the Tri-Cities to continue doing digital technology work and art.  

The book was printed in limited quantities and is not available for purchase. One of the students set up a website for the project that can be found and perused here.  


Leslie Streeter, Office of Marketing and Communication, (509) 372-7333,