Kay Rosen (American, b. 1949), Untitled Grid (Blue Queue; No Melon, No Lemon; Daredevil; Blue Double U; Grayello; Volkswagons Rust; Emblems; A Redder A; Antititian; Gray V; Felt Tip Pen; Look for (Spanish); Greyer G; Middle of a Film Noir; Green Genre Painting; Violetter), 1990, sign paint and gouache on papers, 84 × 124 in. (overall). Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields, Gift of Ann M. Stack, 2000.157A-P © Kay Rosen 2005, Indianapolis Museum of Art, Non-Exclusive Licensee.
What’s in a word? The twentieth century witnessed a world bombarded with written information on an extraordinary scale. This expansion and complication of human communication inspired some artists to create works that prompt viewers to examine how they interact with the written word. Illegible features prints, drawings, and paintings on paper that incorporate familiar English words that are playfully manipulated away from any expected usage. Others within the exhibition employ imaginary but expressive scripts inspired by non-Western calligraphy. Each encourages guests to consider how images are “read” and how meaning is derived from marks on paper.