Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Bella Venezia

I returned last week from 10 amazing days in Venice, where I was a participant in a calligraphy workshop taught by Monica Dengo.  Monica is an inspired teacher and brilliant artist who has collaborated with the Correr Museum on Piazza San Marco to curate a remarkable exhibit entitled The Poetics of Written Space.

The opening party was a star-studded event with some of the absolute "greats" of the contemporary calligraphy movement, including Ewan Clayton, Birgit Nass, Kitty Sabatier and Satzuki Hatsushima.  To see a video of the opening party go to

The course moved rapidly from a look at the movements and gestures involved in personal handwriting to the patterns of making handwriting truly free and rhythmic.  By the end of the week Monica encouraged us to make our own marks and to experiment with various tools.  Here I am using a cola pen and Sumi ink playing with a variety of marks.

As the week progressed the students created four books filled with the week's work.  These books are currently on display as part of The Poetics of Written Space exhibit at the Correr.  Here is my friend Carla Tenret looking over some of the books we made.

Additionally, we had time in the library to handle and study books and letters from the 13th through 19th centuries.  This was a remarkable experience and provided me with a basis for understanding further the concept of developing a personal approach to my lettering.

Perhaps the best part of the week was making new friends from many European countries.  Discussing ideas about lettering over dinner only added to the rich experience of the class.  This class was a significant opportunity in every way.

We had fairly good weather during the course, but the surprise for many of us was a couple of days of high water.  The alarms sound, the water rises, and people wade on through the risen lagoon to get to activities.  Here I am putting on my boots, so that I can go outside.