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Thomas Ingmire

September 27th -October 2, 2015

WORDS TO BE LOOKED AT: a continuing exploration of the affinities between poetry, calligraphy, and music

 “Words to be looked at” is the title of a book published in 2010 by Liz Kotz. It explores the use of language in 1960s art. In the context of many works of contemporary “expressive” calligraphy, the book seems relevant as it discusses artists who used words, but chose not to make statements with them. Calligraphy per se is not part of the discussions , but all the works evolve around the visual word with typography primarily used to make points about the visual properties of language. More importantly, for our purposes, I want to focus on the book’s exploration of the ideas that resulted from interdisciplinary dialogues between experimental music, avant-garde literature and poetry, and the visual arts.

We will discuss and explore some works of artists from this period including John Cage, and Jackson McLow, as well as artists from earlier times who created visual expressions of the word. Paul Klee, Ben Shahn, and Mark Tobey are some names that come to mind. Their work, and other ideas relating to music and poetry will be used as inspiration for guiding the development of new calligraphic forms and compositions. We may even take a look at a few historic alphabets as a jumping-off point for creating new letterforms.

As my description suggests, ideas about the class are in a state of evolution. You will need to think about the class as experimental and be willing to search without knowing how or where your work will lead you. I am always personally challenged by the words of Arne Wolf, one of my mentors, who said, “The urge of the artist is to do something different––to change change. For anything to be art it has to be new.” My idea with this class is to see if, by taking a kind of “sideways” look at some unique explorations by other art disciplines, we can develop original concepts that will forge new paths for calligraphy. x