Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Annie Vought: Paper Cut Letters

A fellow artist brought my attention to Annie Vought. Her work is meticulous and beautiful. She says this about her body of work:

"Email, text messages, instant messaging and Twitter are all examples of fun and immediate means of 'written' communication. Through the computer I am in touch with people I may never have seen before and I can respond in real time to a loved one. But with the ubiquity of this access and convenience, we are losing the tangible handwritten letter. Handwritten records are fragments of individual histories. In the penmanship, word choice, and spelling the author is often revealed in spite of him/herself. A letter is physical confirmation of who we were at the moment it was written, or all we have left of a person or a time...I have been working with cut out correspondence for the past four years. I meticulously recreate notes and letters that I have found, written, or received by enlarging the documents onto a new piece of paper and intricately dissecting the negative spaces with an Exact-o knife. The handwriting and the lines support the structure of the cut paper, keeping it strong and sculptural, despite its apparent fragility. In these paper cutouts, I focus on the text, structure, and emotion of the letter in an elaborate investigation into the properties of writing and expression. Penmanship, word choice, and spelling all contribute to possible narratives about who that person is and what they are like. My recreating the letters is an extended concentration on peoples’ inner lives and the ways they express their thoughts through writing."

I too am grieving the decline of the handwritten note or letter. I still attempt it occasionally and keep a drawer of stationery. I love letterpress cards and try to send those to friends and family.

But I'm not interested in making work about other people's letters, as Annie does. It is good for me to look at her work, as I am getting into paper text installations. I'm just more selfish, perhaps. I am interested in my OWN handwriting, perceiving it as the truest self-expression of my own unique mark-making. The hand is mine, the 'font' is mine. I am fascinated by the idea of text as art, text as image. And the huge range of temperature it connotes, from a personal warmth to an impersonal chill. I want my installations to resonate as personal.

I admire Annie's scale. It appears she's created some small paper cut letters and others that are very large. I am interested in scale, as well. I want my text to live large, to explode up and down a wall, or to slowly and quietly seep across the entire surface. But either way, to have an engulfing presence. I just bought a neat, old house with vast wall space. I may try my hand at some painted, large-scale text. And leave the temporary installations at other venues to paper. The options are exciting to consider.

Visit Annie's website at:

Saturday, October 1, 2011

On the Other Side: Kris Korb

Kris Korb

Originally I am from the fine state of Michigan, but I have lived in Nevada, Missouri, since 1988. Since that time, I have been the coordinator of campus activities, tickets, and calendar at Cottey College, a private women's college offering associate degrees and select baccalaureate programs. In addition to planning, promoting, and producing a wide variety of performing artists, I am also the curator of the P.E.O. Foundation Art Gallery at the college. I have taken a few art classes just for fun at the Spiva Center, at the Nevada Regional Technical Center, and at Cottey College. My bachelor's degree is in conservation and my master's degree is in campus recreation (so when combined, I am certified to play outside!) This is the first piece I have entered in a professional gallery.

While I was not directly affected by the tornado, I know several people who lost their homes, businesses, and family members. I am the American Red Cross Vernon County disaster chair and volunteered with the local Red Cross in setting up shelters in three locations in and around Joplin soon after the tornado hit. The physical devastation was (and is) profoundly amazing.

I was so glad that Spiva was offering an opportunity to provide self-expression of thoughts and feelings related to the tornado. I knew that many pieces would reflect the destructive physical impact of the tornado on the people of Joplin, and I wanted to convey the feelings of loving, kindness, and hopefulness of the survivors and volunteers that emerged afterwards.

I attended the opening of the exhibition and felt extremely uncomfortable wearing the name tag indicating I was an "Artist," as I do not think of myself in that way. I work with professional performing and visual artists on a daily basis and cannot compare myself to people at that level.

My piece is entitled "Remembering...Protecting...Caring..." and represents some of the emotional stages that survivors and volunteers went through. The figure is based upon a Native-American grandmother who is looking both backwards and forwards. She is acknowledging the loss and is trying to accept the present while preparing for the future. She is holding two heads, each nestled in a bird's nest, in a protective manner. Have these two physically flown from this devastated area, or is she trying to care and comfort them? It's up to the viewer to decide.

The head of the piece is made of paper clay covered in hand-dyed silk and the body is built on a wire armature. The hair on all three heads is made of silk and the outerwear is remnants of an old dress. The skirt is made of small sticks and the feet are made of nut shells and fur. While none of these materials are from the Joplin area, one could easily have found them on the ground and in the trees. The figure stands on a base that has a large heart shape naturally formed in the center of the wood.

I am for an art revolution.