Detail of chapter contribution for Asemics 16 (Edition #2) Collaborative Mail-Art Book Project by IUOMA member Cheryl Penn (Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa)
July 11, 2011 - Cheryl Penn's eight-page contribution to the second edition of the Asemics 16 project represents the impressive diversity of approaches artists from around the globe are bringing to the project. Here is the chapter's opening page:
Cheryl is primarily a visual artist who works in the visual-verbal area, combining text and image. The Chapter 2 contribution manages to synthesize a variety of modes with asemic writing as a dominant theme. The chapter incorporates ripped collage, textile art stitching, Burroughsian cut-up, and overlaid concrete poetry. In addition to its pure visual appeal, this work opens numerous possibilities for exploration of the nature of language and its structures. Here are pages 2-3:
The piece on the right indicates the Edition #2 Chapter is in some ways a transitional work by Cheryl. She has done some great concrete work using rubber stamps - a staple of mail-art. That work reappears here, integrating into asemic swirls that threaten to meld into the strokes of action art. The piece on the left strikes me as being a very successful integration of vispo and asemic writing, owing a nod to the gains David Baptiste-Chirot as has made for all of us. Here are pages 4-5:
This is my personal favorite because the asemic writing follows map lines. Many mail-artists make great use of maps in their work, and it's used to great benefit here. Some of Cheryl's newer asemic writing looks as if it were influenced by street art, but I know that is not a source of inspiration for her. Also in this spread is an application of screening - Karen Champlin (Illinois, USA) has achieved very successful results with screens too. Next, pages 6-7:
A true book artist, Cheryl has made each chapter she sends unique by adding one-of-a-kind elements to the copy foundation. The print at the lower-right is a photo that has been added. I thought it was very interesting when Cheryl Penn began using circular and organic shapes for her asemic writing - breaking out of the linear mode - and the results are shown on these pages. The screened-over writing on the left is, to me, very expressive (one way to interject meaning in your asemic work), accented by the regularity of the grid. And the final page:
One term I haven't used yet is visual poetry - vispo. This chapter works as visual poetry, simply, if for no other reason, because it draws attention to the visual qualities of language and away from the abstraction of meaning through reading words. Language is very much used as a material on many of these pages.
Yet in this chapter, Cheryl Penn has not chosen to any great degree to explore the syntax of word and image that informs so much visual poetry. I think her Chapter 2 work is primarily textual and harkens back to classic concrete poetry, also revitalizing it and expanding its field considerably; this requires incorporating the innovations of visual poetry.
Many IUOMA members are familiar with Cheryl's beautiful work for Asemics 16 - Edition #1. I don't believe this Edition #2 work has been as widely shared. It is more textual, more black & white - but I think very worthy of a close look. Many thanks, Cheryl! Also, Cheryl has a great mail-art blog where you can see some fantastic work: