Writ Deep: Craft and the embedded word
Northern Illinois University School of Art and Design
Curated by Shannon Stratton
Rather than looking to the history of language art, Writ Deep is an exploration of the relationship between craft and text as a unique affinity between forms. Where the use of text in art has historically been to push the boundaries of the field - including operating as an anti-art form or advocating for an anti-aesthetic - text and craft share a longer history where text is anything but anti-craft.
Craft that employs text lends language a physicality: a tangible , as opposed to metaphorical, body. Craft and text is an obliging re-unification of body and mind as the abstract is made manifest both materiality and methodologically. In Writ Deep the idea of the embedded text connects the work of Michael Dinges, Michael Genovese, Carol Jackson and Rebecca Ringquist whose processes of scrimshaw, engraving, weather tooling, and embroidery and appliqué (respectively) are rooted in craft traditions. Each of these artists is invested in these forms as their chosen medium, as opposed to utilized them strictly for a singular metaphor, and each employs text as a major mark in their work.
To embed something means to plant it firmly and deeply in surrounding mass. In the case of text and craft, the word is surrounded by material that supports, informs and contextualizes it in a way that the page alone cannot. In a craft/text relationship, the material substrate becomes a body for the text to inhabit, not just a supporting surface. Through methodologies like engraving, etching and embroidery, text impregnates the material, creating a resolute bond that literally alters or changes the substrate through a kind of scoring or scarring of the surface - actions that call to mind a body as it might be scratched and scarred through use or through decoration. Scars are telling reminders of a body’s history; in the case of text, materiality and craft, the connection between method of incision and the substrate itself becomes one that is partially dependent on the material’s narrative and partially dependent on the narrative inherent to the process. Continue Reading ⍄