Grizzly Grizzly and Friends at Butter Projects

Writing Lessons, October 2014

Writing Lessons is a group exhibition inspired by a set of instructions found in the textbook, Manual of fundamentals in the teaching of handwriting in the public schools, published in 1918. In the book, author, Tom Sawyier instructs students through the finer points of cursive penmanship using cryptic directions such as this one, for writing the letter "A":

Around-up-down-up; around down; roll-pull; 1-2.

Intrigued by the concept of using words to describe the making of words (and the multiplicity of meanings created by that effort), members of Philadelphia-based curatorial collective Grizzly Grizzly offer a group exhibition of works related to text and the kinesthetic and visual relationship of the mind and hand. The exhibition will include works both by members of Grizzly Grizzly and artists who have exhibited with Grizzly Grizzly in the past; it includes works on paper, painting, sculpture, and video and audio works.

Ruth Scott Blackson and Talia Greene both offer works on paper where interventions into found, printed texts obscure (or modify) meaning. Printed Tyvek - the material of outdoor public text - is repurposed in Michael Konrad's wall sculptures to bring the outside in.  Mike Richison's relief sculptures and Josh Weiss' paintings rely on indiosyncractic systems of symbols to create works that invite "reading". Casey Droege and Mary Smull's joint effort SAD-LIBS re-contextualizes their own depressing childhood letters into a participatory work for all to share.

Several time-based works in the exhibition suggest the act of writing more directly. In Margo Wolowiec's video, abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz, thread drops through space to pool in unusual shapes, and an effort to write the alphabet creates unexpected results. Cindy Stockton Moore's animation piece is an interpretation of Sawyier's instructions into body movements, the fluid motion of the ink-on-vellum drawings creating its own language of form. A sound collaboration by Christopher Powell and Mary Smull uses MIDI data collected from their hands while writing the alphabet; the raw data is then re-combined to create the final piece, in an audio take on the stitched "sampler.”