An exhibit of artwork will open Jan. 14 at the Clare Gallery in Hartford. The 12 pieces to be shown don't exist yet. They will be created on the spot by the artist in a three-hour art event on that day that is open to the public.
Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord of Newburyport, Mass., is a calligrapher. When creating her text-based artworks, she favors spiritual quotes by writers such as Albert Camus, Margaret Fuller, Emily Dickinson and Eudora Welty. Her favorite is by Henry David Thoreau: "Only that day dawns to which we are awake." That makes her a good fit at the Clare, whose exhibits center around faith, interfaith and social-justice themes.
Gaylord will show up at the gallery at 12:30 p.m. with a three-foot-wide roll of artist's paper, black acrylic-based paint and two large calligraphic brushes. Hanging up the paper in seven-feet-tall pieces and using a ladder, she will re-create her chosen quotes in the series of artworks, then leave them hanging in the gallery until March 10.
Gaylord's calligraphic style is designed to inspire reflection on the words she writes. "The way the writing is, there is not a lot of space between the lines. I want it to be legible but not instantly readable," Gaylord said. "These are quotes that I want people to think about. I want them to read them slowly rather than scan it and say 'I got it and I'm done.' It's sort of like poetry books, that have slightly less readable fonts than a newspaper. If you want people to dwell on the words a little longer, you want them to take more time."
In the past, Gaylord has created large-scale calligraphic pieces at public places, such as Nathaniel Hawthorne's birthplace, The House of the Seven Gables in Salem, Mass. But this will be the first one she's done where the public is invited to watch the process unfold.
Gaylord said the inspiration behind the large-scale project comes from two sources. "I've been fascinated for a long time by graffiti, but I'm not the kind of person who could do that. I've just had this itch to do something bigger," she said.
She added that she has been doing framed artwork for decades and has a huge amount stored in her home. "I don't need more framed calligraphy that I'd bring home in the end. I like the idea of just leaving them there," she said. "I do the performance and I put them there and I say goodbye."
THE POWER OF WORDS opens with an art-making event by Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord on Jan. 14, starting at 12:30 p.m. The show will be up from Jan. 15, when it opens with a reception from 1 to 3 p.m., until March 10. Clare Gallery is at the Franciscan Center for Urban Ministry, 285 Church St. in Hartford. spsact.org/clare2.