Calligraphy is a medium that moves between artist styles – a hard block of fresh clay that when molded by warm hands, picks up our finger prints and becomes what we desire. The March Art Hop at the KBAC is evidence of this, as works from the Pen Dragons were displayed on all of the walls.
The Pen Dragons are a midwest Michigan calligraphy guild, open to artists of all types, talents and ages. Founded in 1983 by Marijo A. Carney, she started teaching all kinds of of people, from art lovers, to nurses, and even engineers. She speaks of the flexibility of calligraphy, an art form that “appeals to both the right brain and the left brain.” The more technical among us enjoy the finesse of precise letter forms, clean lines, perfectly proportioned pages. At the same time, those letters can be freed to dance upon the paper, as Marijo demonstrates in her piece An Act of Kindness, letters extending and wrapping their graceful forms around each other.
Susan, a former Borgess nurse, saw a friend’s wedding invitations written in calligraphy. After retiring she dedicated her time to studying and practicing the art, all due to her love of letters. Tina Lee-Cronkhite espouses her love of the physicality of the medium and how layers of paint, paper, gesso and other media work with calligraphy to create heavily textured books. “[An artist’s] personality comes out in the work” and even though the letters referenced might be the same, the final work comes out differently.
During the Art Hop, several Pen Dragons calligraphers turned attendee names into beautiful script on personalized bookmarks. Around them, the flexibility and range of calligraphy is displayed in the KBAC gallery, from more traditional samplers, to delicate silk paintings with ghostly letters. Lisa LeBlanc’s Haiku Home is an impressive mix of eastern and western aesthetics; English characters formed with loose loops of the brush and Chinese hànzì painstakingly brushed with amazing clarity. On another wall, the guild’s challenge to its members to letter a Bible verse on 8”x8” paper in black and white displays more of the range of the letters, with each of the 15 black and white panels serving as a vignette of calligraphic possibility.
We loved having the ‘Dragons in the KBAC gallery and classrooms in March. If you missed them, keep an eye on our class list. If you’re interested in taking classes, hiring a calligrapher, or learning more about the Pen Dragons, please visit www.pendragonscalligraphy.org or follow them on Facebook.