Monday, January 21, 2013

Introduction: Lisa

It's been lovely seeing the new flurry of introductions—and even the first alphabetsbeing posted! I just wanted to introduce myself before we already find ourselves in February. I'm an American artist/writer who has been living in Florence for the last eight+ years. I fell in love with Florence while studying for my architecture degree, and finally traveled here for the first time in 1996. I felt very much at home on that initial visit, and returned as often as I could, until a research trip for a book I was writing about the piazzas turned into a permanent stay. The book was pretty much a full-time job until it was published in 2008; since then I've been able to devote more time to photography, artist's books and other paper-related work.

This is my second year participating in ALaW. I first joined because I love the idea of bringing text/words into visual pieces. When I started out, I imagined I would create artist's books to display my alphabets, but was surprised to end up with completely different solutions for the structure/presentation (click here & here to see the final pieces). And it seems that, yet again, I will be heading in the direction of something other than a book. I thought I'd share my progress so far, and hope you don't mind me recording some of my thoughts in this space.

As I was sitting at the studio table one day at the beginning of the year, looking at a pile of paper strips left over from another project, I found myself envisioning them as 'slipcases/covers' for little boxes...packaging peace somehow? I trimmed a couple to form 7x7x3-cm sleeves (shown in the foreground of the photo above), and began playing with the idea of this structure in my mind. How would the letters be integrated into the design? What would be inside of each box? How could the content relate to the individual letters of the alphabet?

At the moment, I'm working on a plan to incorporate both alphabets into a single 26-box piece. Since each box's 'sleeve' has two 7x7-cm faces, I'll feature capital letters on the tops, and create a separate lower-case alphabet for the bottoms. I'm experimenting with an olive branch motif as the basis for decorative letterssimilar to the idea of those Renaissance initials surrounded by patterns of leaves, stems, flowers and such—and will create a variation for the lowercase letters.

Each letter will correspond to a language that begins with that letter, and when you remove the sleeve from the box you will find the word 'peace' written in that language (along with the phonetic version for languages that use characters). I may also include other peace-related symbols/ bits and pieces in the boxes, for example, the Italian peace flag in the 'Italian' box, lyrics about peace by musicians from some of the countries, books about peace, etc. We'll see... In any case, I like the idea of discovering how people around the world express 'peace', and having the chance to learn more about other languages.

As we're about to enter Week Four, I'm aware of that sensation of already feeling 'behind' with this project. But exploring different ideas and working out the details are such an enjoyable part of the process (I think of this as the 'honeymoon' phase!)and essential before moving forward—so here's hoping those of us in the same boat will still have plenty of time to catch up once we establish a rhythm. I'm looking forward to sharing more soon, and continuing to see all of your ideas as they take shape...


  1. This sounds amazing and challenging and so interesting. The idea of using different languages is so smart and unusual. I can't wait to see this develop.

  2. Hmm...I am exploring other languages, too.Well, I would like to the concept of peace to cross all boundaries.
    But I'm far from decided on my presentation!

  3. Can't wait to see how it comes always seem to be thinking on so many different levels!--Julie

  4. Isn't it interesting how we solve problems from different directions. I really like the way you worked from the presentation but bearing in mind the content at the same time. I look forward to seeing your progress from here. The beginning part always takes much longer.

  5. What a lovely journey of exploration. I love how materials left lying about will talk to us and suggest things, nudge in certain directions...I think the languages of peace is a perfect place to play ( I have played there before) and I smiled so much at your Italian pace flags - we bought one years ago, maybe even in Florence, and still have it here at home. Always a bit tricky in Oz as everyone wants to know why a rainbow and pace (not peace)...

  6. I love your 2012 alphabets and this new one is taking a fascinating direction too! I want to see more!

  7. Thank you all for your comments! They've made me want to really get down to business - and I have made a little more progress since posting here - but I do enjoy letting ideas 'incubate'/grow over time.
    And I know what you mean about the 'PACE' flag, Fiona...but hey, as long as it's generating a dialogue about peace!
    - Lisa


Thank you for taking the time to comment - it's always great to hear from folk.