Kevin B. Chen
Julia Goodman
Amanuensis III (left), 2009
Amanuensis II (right), 2009
Cast paper

While completing the J.B. Blunk Residency in Inverness, CA, Goodman researched local history at the Jack Mason Archive where she came across a collection of 19th Century letters from local families. The different handwritings and treatments of paper as a scarce resource fascinated her. These two pieces are based on the technique of cross-writing, commonly employed to conserve limited paper resources. After a page of writing is completed, the writer turned the page 90 degrees to add a second perpendicular layer of text. Repeatedly following the authors’ penmanship, Goodman deeply carved excerpts of these letters backwards into a wood mold for casting paper to recreate the script through light and shadow without ink. Her work sheds light on the disappearing act of handwritten letters and the consequence of current communication through technology. The following excerpt from Amanuensis III is especially perceptive:

“You remember years ago, when you were quite young and the art of letter writing was not as generally understood and practiced as it is now. There used to be in many country villages a regular amanuensis whose duty it was to write love letters for all the village maidens.”

In Other Words

February 1 - March 24, 2012
Intersection for the Arts
San Francisco, CA

Photo credit: Scott Chernis
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