Words on the Surface

Words -- text --   it's tricky in art. We literary types love it, but when it's part of our work, it can be misread, turn into preaching, take shape in a form that overpowers the image, and often adds little to the real language of visual art.


This workshop "Words on the Surface,"  was tried-out within a small setting  and 4 artists at the home of friend and colleague (and hostess impeccable) Liz Napier, and it proved a test of some new theories I'm working around. The full-blown weekend version will be March 10-11 at the Southwest School of Art and Craft (I'm sure there are openings still.)


First we used text (See Liz' study on left) in its most deconstructed manner, taking collages and reworking, cutting, tearing, deconstructing and reconstructing meaninful words and phases cut and torn from magazines. The results, if I do say so, were strongly graphic, dancing their context and content in ways that begged to be read in a new way. There is a kind of energy in text used this way, and it reminds me of work from Sister Corita (Corita Kent) and her students in the early 1970s.

Then letters themselves took centerstage in sunprints -- the colors are kind of ugly -- but the potential is there. You recognize the ubiquitous refrigerator magnet used as a "resist"? Again, layering the sunprints gave a depth and interest that could be used in more literary fashion than we did with these technical trials.












Another idea was to use words layered photographically, directly on fabric through the printer or copy machine. And we also made stamps using the fun foam letters sold in the crafts aisles for summer camp projects. Stacked and glued, these simple letters could be arranged to spell words, or deconstructed into pure shape and form.


Researching ideas for this workshop, I also came across some fun resources on the www. See what you think of these:

Letters, An art project by Asia Wong

An extreme example!

Computer “Raining Letters”

This one is fabulous

Online magnetic poetry sites

Anagram maker

PS-- There is room for one more at the Full Moon/Fool Moon workshop retreat at El Cielo this weekend -- studio bed only. This is one of a series of events at my home/teaching studio in the Texas Hill Country. For more information, check the link on the right side -- coming up workshops. More fool me, its not the full moon, but Sunday is the lunar new year and holds the auspicious launching of the Year of the Pig (or Boar, you choose).