Another find in my sorting. I think this photo was taken around 1983. The lettering was done with an automatic pen. The quote is from Margaret Fuller from a letter to Samuel G. Ward. I did it for an exhibition called Concord Quotes at the Concord Free Library in Concord, MA. Margaret Fuller was a friend and colleague of Emerson and the Transcendentalists. I have read two excellent biographies of her: Margaret Fuller: A New American Life by Megan Marshall and The Lives of Margaret Fuller: A Biography by John Matteson.
One of the things I came across in my sorting was a copy of a 1981 Lettering Arts Guild of Boston Bulletin with an article by Rob Saunders (check out his amazing Letterform Archive) about a visit with Boston calligrapher Ed Karr. I could hear Ed's voice and see him as I read it. I did short post about Ed a few years ago and was sad to see there was little information about him on the web. There's a little more now that Rob has kindly given me permission to share his article.
As I got ready or the Open Studio, I went through boxes and drawers and unearthed a lot of old work although not as much as one might expect from 38 years. Over the years I got rid of a lot. Because I never sold much, there was often an accumulation. I found it discouraging. And so I would sort. If I didn't find feel that a piece had anything left to teach me, I would discard it. It did keep me moving forward. I never felt any obligation to the old work and so I was always free to explore new ideas.
Now, however, I wish I hadn't been quite so decisive. I would like to be able to look back at my years of work and see in greater detail how I developed as an artist. If I could give that old self some advice, I would say don't be so hasty. Draw back from whatever emotions are attached to the work—feelings of discouragement that no one wanted it, feelings of dissatisfaction with the work itself. Even though it seems hard to believe now, you may wish someday that there was an archive of your work.
This is a book I found in a drawer. It brings up another thing I would tell my old self: Date your work. This was done when I was doing a lot of experimenting with the photocopier which would make it late '80s/early '90s. The imagery is from grape vines placed on the copier. The text is mine.
JOURNEY The word stays with me. I find myself naming the events of my life journeys & I see that my life itself is a journey. In Blue Highways, William Least Heat Moon talked about his father, and his belief that any traveler who misses the journey misses about all he is going to get. I have to keep reminding myself, it's the journey, the living, that's important, not the destination. I should live the making of this work, and enjoy the journey. Mostly I do. But I worry about what comes next, where does this lead, what direction is my work taking. DESTINATION. I have to keep reminding myself. JOURNEY
Here’s a frequent metaphor: life is a road, a journey, a path. I’ve used it often and taken comfort in the idea that the journey is more important than the destination. Now I want a new word, a new metaphor, or better yet, nometaphor at all. Journey implies destination and I see now there is no destination, no place to get to, in the artist’s life. Saying or doing anything that implies that there is only gets in the way. We need to stop seeking the “there.” We need to live and work in the “here,” to be present and alive in every moment, and to allow ourselves to “Take joy!”
I am just getting around to dismantling my display from last Saturday’s 65th Birthday Open Studio Celebration. I have been putting off taking the work down. Although I’ll always carry all the joy and good feelings of that day in my heart, I can still feel them in the air here. I know it’s time to bring our first floor back to working and living mode, but I will miss the palpable emanations from the gathered work.
The celebration could not have been better. Both my children were here, one from Seattle and one just before leaving for a new chapter in her life in New York. They have been such a part of my work from their childhood days in the studio to their advice and support as adults. It was so right to have them be a part of the celebration. There was a steady stream of people all day. My son said it had an Our Town kind of feel and I think it did. Two of my kids’ preschool teachers, their pediatrician, a candidate for state government who came in on his campaign walk, friends that have become family, fellow artists with whom I have shared the journey, as well as people I did not know but felt an immediate connection to.
It was so gratifying to have so many people come to see the work, and to really look at it carefully. There was plenty of conversation but it was not like some art receptions where it seems that the social aspect is the dominant one. In my promotion of the event, I tried to stress that while there was work for sale, that was not the purpose. Sales were better than they have ever been for me (friends and family took care of that so I could enjoy the day unencumbered by such concerns) but people who came to just look seemed very comfortable doing so which was my intention. Many people (both familiar and new faces) thanked me for sharing my space, my work, and my birthday with them. To quote Kurt Vonnegut in his book of advice to the young, “If this isn’t nice, what is?”
If you have been reading my 65th year posts, you know I have been working through some things related to my work and its interaction with the larger world. As I prepared for the Open Studio, I confirmed my commitment to acceptance and joy. I had prepared the text of the 65th year posts to publish in a hand-sewn simple book. As the time drew closer, I decided not to do it. I wanted to start my 66th year fresh as the artist who is content with her choices and her work and ready to embrace the future.
Another change I made as I prepared was to only show my art. I had originally thought I would share some examples from my most recent teaching with adults, some of my commercial calligraphy from the past, and my solstice cards over the years. As I started to put up my art, I realized that I wanted it to be center stage. While I believe in the value of all creative endeavors, a lot of my 65th year has been about claiming my identification as artist. Thank you to all of you who have read my words over the years and supported me in my life and work.
I am considering putting some of the easier to ship things on my etsy site. You'll be the first to know.
I just found this as a draft file. I thought I had posted it earlier.
Here's the invitation. I know many of you do not live nearby but am sharing for those of you who are. Just thought I'd mention that if you are considering coming and are not familiar with the area, Newburyport is a charming seaport town with shops, galleries, and restaurants and the Plum Island Wildlife Refuge and a beautiful beach nearby.
to my online studio and journal where I share my love of making books, my art, and my thoughts on the creative process and the artist's life. Your comments are most welcome here and by email: susan (at) susangaylord.com.
THE JOY OF MAKING BOOKS VIDEO SERIES
Learn how to make simple handmade books with recycled materials to share with friends and family. Making books has enriched my life. I hope it will yours.