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Kay Rosen Echoes 2014 Enamel sign paint on canvas

40 x 30 inches (101.6 x 76.2 cm)
Signed and dated on reverse
(Inventory #29953)

Kay Rosen traded in her academic-based study of language for language-based art four decades ago, realizing that what she found interesting in language had to be expressed visually, using color, scale, materials, non-linear composition, processes such as drawing and painting, and graphic strategies. Her approach has often been more passive than active in the sense that she doesn’t begin a work by saying, “I am going to deliver this message.” Rather, she responds to language as found material, identifying potential in it that exceeds its normal function as a mode of communication. She manipulates its body parts – letters, letterforms and sequencing, to shape her message. The writer Rhonda Lieberman, who has written insightfully about the work many times, called her as a “revealer of language, showing it doing things that it didn’t know it could do.” The poet Eileen Myles, who has also written on Rosen’s work several times, described what she did as “moving the furniture around.”

“Echoes” is a visual representation of a vocal concept. The word draws on the features of its letterforms – the vertical and horizontal symmetry and non-directionality of “O” and “H” to emulate echoing. The versatility and symmetry of “O” and “H” allow “Echoes” to reflect and intersect itself horizontally and vertically four times over, creating a graphic reverberation. The space of “Echoes” conveys an enclosure, a chamber, where sound has bounced off the left and right and top and bottom edges and landed in the center, reoriented.

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