Saturday, December 29, 2018

Forty Years #38: The Power of Words

In 2015 I contacted the Clare Gallery at the Franciscan Center for Urban Ministry in Hartford, CT about an exhibition of the Spirit Books. They were interested but the gallery could only accommodate 2-dimensional work. Through a series of email conversations, we arrived at the decision that I would create large scale calligraphy banners at the gallery. I liked the idea of exhibiting calligraphy and inspirational quotes but I didn’t want to do framed work. I didn’t want the expense and I didn’t want the formality. I wanted to do something that was more immediate which led me to suggest that I would do the lettering live in the gallery.

I called the exhibit The Power of Words and chose short quotes that I felt would give comfort and courage. I thought of lines that one might want to have drift through one’s mind while online at the grocery store. I experimented with sumi ink but found it dripped and used Golden Liquid Acrylic with flow medium added and a 1 1/4 inch Silver Black Velvet brush. I liked that the softness of the brush’s edges gave letters that were not too crisp. The banners were four feet wide by six and a half feet long. I liked the way the large size changed the viewer's relationship with the words.

  The gallery presentation in January 2017 was a performance of sorts and I prepared by repeatedly writing the quotes full size on newsprint. In the studio, everything was set up to duplicate the experience in the gallery except the quality of the paper. I wrote each of the ten quotes about eight times. I felt that the design of the lettering needed to be both bold and airy. I don’t think I would have arrived at the style I used without Mike Gold’s workshop.
The lettering in the gallery went well. I only left out one letter (in the Kerouac quote at the top of the post) and I noticed it right away. The free form layout allowed me tuck it in before I moved on to the next line.
The banners were exhibited this fall at the Monastery Gallery in West Hartford, CT along with the Spirit Books. I lettered two more much narrower banners, again before an audience. I find that I enjoy the experience but also feel great relief when it is over.

Here is a pdf I made with images of the banners and information about the quotes. I did intentionally choose to have an equal distribution of women and men. I also wrote an article about the process for Bound & Lettered Volume 14, Number 3.

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