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What I Saw at the Top

Calligraphy Inspiration

letermeMuch like the Marsha and Larry Brady retrospective, the faculty exhibition at The Summit was just stunning.  I did get permission at the gallery, by the way, to photograph the pieces.  That said, beautiful as they are, these images -- details of the larger works, behind reflective glass, taken with an iPhone -- don't do justice to the originals. The above work is by Yves Leterme, a calligrapher from Belgium who gave one of the keynotes at the conference.  His talk, "Between Sadness and Euphoria," chronicled the highs and lows of his last three years as a full-time freelance lettering artist (he used to teach Latin).  He was brilliant and funny and far more disarming than any human being has rights to be.  He has a website full of stunning images here. claytonHere is a detail of a work by Ewan Clayton, an English calligrapher hailing from Sussex where -- fun fact -- Edward Johnston was from as well.  Johnston is considered to be the "father of modern calligraphy" and is perhaps most widely famous for designing London's Underground typeface.  I adore how Clayton's letters intermingle so thoughtfully and elegantly. denisbrownDenis Brown, the artist behind this work, is a calligrapher from Ireland whose artwork and teaching are awe-inspiring.  This piece was made with three layers of glass that have writing etched into them, floating above the additional background layer.  It's a pity this image is so soft because the work -- like all of his work -- is extraordinary.  You can visit Denis online here. stevensAnd finally, a detail from a piece by John Stevens, whose new book, Scribe, was released at the conference.  Life has been racing forward at such a steady clip, I have yet to give this book my undivided attention, but even a quick scan reveals this much:  it is jaw-droppingly stunning.  I can't wait to dig in. These were just a small fraction of the many exquisite pieces on display -- that, I think, was one of the most thrilling things about this conference.  There was so much talent across the faculty and students, and there were extraordinary things to see at every turn:  the exhibitions!  the envelope displays!  the endless tables of books at John Neal's!  the art supplies from Paper and Ink!  the exquisite artwork at the market night and vendors' fair!  My heart and brain felt flooded. It is difficult to reenter the daily routine after being immersed in such an intensively creative world for a week.  I'm back to being a full-time mommy until the fall semester resumes, and in the brief intervals when I do pick up my pens, there's simply a disconnect between what happens on the page and what I want to see there.  But the inspiration is life-giving.  My daughter, Hazel, crawled out of bed a couple weeks ago when we were on vacation and told me she "wanted to watch the sky change colors."  She looked into the dusk and said, "I see the moon! I'd like to climb a ladder all the way up to the moon, and then the ladder would turn into a slide, and I would slide back down, holding the moon in my hands.”  As impossible as that may sound, that poetic little soul (she is three, by the way) articulated exactly what I hope to do in the wake of that week in Colorado:  slide back down to earth, holding the light in my hands of all the astonishing things I beheld at the summit.


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  • Doug Smith on

    Laura – These are really startling works of art. Thanks for shooting them with your iPhone and sharing them. What incredible visual artists!

  • Cheryl on

    Beautiful thoughts, Hazel!


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