The Condensed OED by Sarah Hulsey

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A dictionary like the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is a chronicle of the lexical knowledge in a language community. Though certain words in the dictionary may be unfamiliar, it is estimated that an average adult speaker knows 60,000-100,000 words in their language. This staggering degree of knowledge is acquired effortlessly in childhood and used regularly throughout every aspect of one’s life. This piece, The Condensed OED, represents the complex network of connections among words in a language, much of which lives in the head of every speaker. The three-color repeat screen print and the long length of the fabric suggests the volume of information involved, hinting at the living, growing possibilities of a language’s lexicon.

Artist Bio

Sarah Hulsey is an artist whose work draws on her background in linguistics to explore the structure of language in a visual domain. She has had solo exhibitions in Cambridge, Boston, and Philadelphia and numerous group exhibitions both nationally and internationally. She received a BA in linguistics from Harvard, a PhD in linguistics from MIT, and an MFA in book arts/printmaking from the University of the Arts, Philadelphia. Hulsey is a 2020 recipient of the Artist Fellowship Award from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the 2016 Walter Feldman Fellowship for Emerging Artists in New England, and the Fabric Workshop and Museum Post-graduate Apprenticeship. Her work is held in the collections of the Library of Congress, Yale University Haas Arts Library, University of California Berkeley Bancroft Library, and the Ampersand Foundation in Johannesburg, South Africa, among others.