In 2000 I had the opportunity to curate an exhibition for the Arizona Commission on the Arts Traveling Exhibition Program. The premise of this exhibition was to explore the relationship between language and visual expression, with the concept of language not just limited to the written/spoken word, but also expressed through a purposeful use of materials and the medium of sound. I enlisted three other artists to participate in the exhibition with me: Gene Coleman (a composer/musician), Lisa Lockhart (a retired librarian and book artist) and Lucy Slivinski (a sculptor working in found/recycled objects). Each of us, in our own unique way, within the context of the exhibition, illustrated the symbiotic relationship between what "language" is, the role it plays, and how it frames our understanding of visual experiences.
During our discussions about the project we thought this was an opportunity to explore a dialogue between us as artists, beyond simply loaning out work, and while hardly an original construct, what we decided on, due to the fact we were not in any reasonable proximity to each other, was to collaborate on a series of "cards" that we sent back and forth to each other. The cards were divided into four groups, one for each of us. We would "do something" to our group of cards then send them on to the next in line, each taking turns improvising upon what had come before. Everyone started a group, was the second and third to add their marks, and lastly would bring a group to its conclusion. Originally this process was to take about eight weeks, but it ended up taking almost two years, and then once completed, the cards were divided between us, each group going on to whatever and wherever. I had quickly photographed the entire set just before we split them up, burned the images to a disk, and filed the disk away . . . until now . . .
What is presented here documents the set of 160, 3" x 5" “cards” and in a way captures the essence of how the idea of language colors what we see . . . each expression interpreted within the context of one's own experiences, added to, then passed on . . .
Click on the image to view a slide show of the "language image object" cards.