June 29, 2020

Kristin Bauer’s Text Art Creates Connections at SMoCA

Words have the power to bring us together, to spark movements, and generate both laughter and tears. Words connect us, bind us, and define us. Words are powerful stuff! For decades, contemporary artists have used words in their art to layer meaning, spark dialogue, and express ideas. Search SMoCA’s collection, using the word “text,” to see lots of examples.  

Artist Melanie Yazzie layers text and imagery to express her cultural identity.
Melanie Yazzie, Tempe Suite Portfolio: Within Two Worlds, 1995, lithograph on paper, 24 inches x 18 inches, 1998.057.31

In a recent installation at SMoCA, artist Kristin Bauer used words to connect us by creating poetic phrases that respond to our current physical distancing measures for COVID-19. Bauer created site-specific artworks for the main entry of SMoCA—Untitled Gestures #4—and along an interior curved wall of the Museum—Untitled Gestures #5. The exterior work reads, “AND A SHARED LONGING CONNECTS US,” and the interior text reads, “ACROSS AN EVER SHIFTING TERRAIN.” Bauer’s poetic musings give a sense of hope, while also acknowledging that the future is going to look very different.  

Kristin Bauer, Untitled Gestures #4, 2020, vinyl on glass.

This isn’t the first time Bauer has worked with Scottsdale Arts.

In December 2019, she worked with Visions students on the importance of fonts and how they portray different emotions and messages. Students learned how to design, print, and apply large-scale vinyl lettering to the Scottsdale Arts campus. The results were teen-created “text interventions,” as Bauer calls them, as words became a performative piece interrupting the public space and causing one to stop and think for a moment.  

Artist Kristin Bauer works with Visions students to create “text interventions” around the Scottsdale Arts campus. Photo: Scottsdale Arts.

What messages would you want to share with your community? What words could you use to unite or bind us during this time of physical distancing and self-quarantining? 

Try it! Pulling inspiration from Bauer’s work, cut out paper letters and put them in your front window (don’t forget, they have to be backwards so the words can be read by your neighbors). Share your message of hope, kindness, and empathy.  

Visions students placed “text intervetions” across the Scottsdale Arts campus, including our glass elevator. Photo credit: Scottsdale Arts.

Follow Kristin Bauer’s work: @reallyrealkristinbauer

Share your messages of hope with us @_SMoCA and @ScottsdaleArts.

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