Calligraphy by S. Gayle Stevens

Issue 23

calligraphy: beautiful writing, drawing photography: light drawing taxonomy: the science of the classification of living things.

Calligraphy consists of a series of wet plate collodion tintype photograms of plant and animal specimens I have collected on walks near my home and in my travels. This series is inspired by ‘cabinets of curiosity’, natural history collections from the 17th century, and the precursor of museums. The original meaning of ‘cabinet’ was a small room; these rooms housed collections of plants, preserved animals and minerals. My collection contains diverse plant and animal remains. I have always been intrigued by what is overlooked in daily life and these objects are cherished for the unique beauty of their sparse remains.

I have rendered my drawings of these specimens in wet plate collodion. The silhouettes of the photogram are rendered as black shadows and echo the brushstrokes in Chinese calligraphy, sparse yet expressive. Changeable as the original specimens, the silver rich plates are unvarnished and will tarnish with age. The speed and degree of tarnish will depend on their environment and the patina will be that of antique silver.

The Calligraphy series is composed of single and multiple five inch square plates displayed in the style of 19th century specimens and housed in black wood shadow box frames. This collection will be displayed as my personal museum of specimens collected on my daily walks. These images are my memento mori; an acknowledgement of lives passed, a rendering of fleeting shadows.

S. Gayle Stevens is a Downers Grove, Illinois based artist.
To view more of Gayle's work, please visit her website.

  Thread 

Thread 

  Walking 

Walking 

  Tale

Tale

  Orbit 

Orbit 

  Icarus 

Icarus 

  Blow 

Blow 

  Change 

Change 

  Still 

Still 

  Cornucopia 

Cornucopia 

  Life 

Life 

  Map 

Map 

  Passer 

Passer 

  Dragon 

Dragon 

  Prick

Prick

  Dance 

Dance 

  Speak 

Speak 

  Estuary 

Estuary 

  Cat n' Mouse 

Cat n' Mouse 

  Lace 

Lace 

  Dive 

Dive