Curating The Poetic Pen show has been a fantastic learning experience. As a former graphic designer I know enough about letterforms and design to be qualified to jury a show. And, as a frustrated calligrapher who admires fine lettering skills I have a strong idea of what constitutes quality work.
Why “frustrated” you wonder? Well, as a left-hander I’ve never been able to hold a pen properly or move across the page easily with a pen in hand. Bought my first calligraphy “kit” in middle school, took classes and once even hired a left handed calligrapher for private lessens (she called me a lost cause!). Happily, I discovered other artistic pursuits that I do feel competent at, so not being able to master calligraphy is no longer a sore spot. This all means I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working on The Poetic Pen show. I have learned so much about art of calligraphy and the many talented artists practicing in the field today.
One of the things I’ve learned about is “calligrams.” (Thanks Carol DuBosch.) A calligram is a poem, phrase, or word in which the typeface, calligraphy or handwriting is arranged in a way that creates a visual image. The image created by the words expresses visually what the word, or words, say. In a poem, it manifests visually the theme presented by the text of the poem. (Thanks Wikipedia.)
We just happen to have two lovely calligrams featured in The Poetic Pen and they are somewhat similar to each other in that they are both portraits of poets.
Marilyn Zornado’s piece titled Whitman Leaves of Grass Portrait features the poet’s portrait made up of fragments from his poetry. See more photos of Marilyn’s work here.
Beverly Womack’s Dunbar, On Whittier features the words Paul Laurence Dunbar, son of a slave, who penned a tribute poem to John Greenleaf Whittier in honor of the 38 years Whittier’s pen fought slavery. Both are beautiful works that have been crowd favorites among our gallery visitors. Learn more about Beverly’s work here.