Skip navigation

Artist statement:

This typographical project relies on the past.* Allowing poetry to take visual “concrete” form is a trail blazed by George Herbert (1600s); Guillaume Apollinaire (1800s); Eugen Gomringer and Emmett Williams (1900s); and contemporary writer Aram Saroyan and artist Luis Camnitzer.

My emphasis on black and white typography is a return that is not the “Same” thanks to Dadaism and Futurism in the early 1900s and the typography of Jackson Mac Low and Ian Hamilton Finlay in the 1960s and 70s. These movements challenged the dominance of the black and white newspaper print that governed society with authority; Mac Low and Hamilton Finlay used color and refused linear sequencing.

In so doing, they wiped the slate clean and allowed me to return the the simplicity of black and white typeface in order to show the authority of that which makes all language possible – the authority of mystery –  the mystery behind language, the mystery by which language is born and creates; the mystery by which our senses of selves are born and create; the mystery of communion through text and image, and in this project specifically, TEXT AS IMAGE.

*Placing the typographical aspect of my art project in historical context came largely from my attending a lecture by the artist and educator Coleman Stevenson, Instagram: Darkexact.


Artist bio:

Kjirsten Severson grew up in the Black Hills of South Dakota, sacred land protected by the Treaty of 1868 for Lakota people’s ceremonial use. The founding of gold in 1874 resulted in the obliteration of that treaty’s promises. The nearby massacre at Wounded Knee in 1890 of unarmed Lakota people; the breaking of the sacred hoop by making Lakota language, rituals, dress, names, and culture illegal; the separating of children from their people and their ancestral lands to be “re-educated” at boarding schools; the continued forced removal of Lakota from lands they legally owned through the 1950s; and the violent backlash on Pine Ridge reservation against American Indian Movement (AIM) members in the 1970s fueled contemporary white defensiveness around white supremacist ideology, bigotry, and crime that still form oppressive forces in the area today. 

Please learn more at  kjirsten would not be the artist sie is today without the surrounding spirituality of Lakota culture through hir developmental years.

Kjirsten’s typographical project incorporates philosophy, art, poetry, and memoir. The typeface comes from hir 1936 Smith Corona typewriter, enlarged a dozen times on a copy machine, and burned into silk screen frames which allow kjirsten to become a big human typewriter. Each letter is individually inked and dried before moving onto the next; therefore, a very very slow human typewriter.

Moving from a largely unconscious motivation that has revealed itself over time, kjirsten wants this art to open up language for viewers as does the poetry of EE Cummings. Sie wants it to be absorbed by the whole body of the viewers as is demanded by the artwork of Mark Rothko. Sie wants the “love of wisdom” that roots all language to be revealed to the viewers as is also promoted by the aphoristic works of other philosophers, such as the ancient Greek, Heraclitus, and Lao Tzu in the Tao te Ching (both from around 500BCE) and as found in the philosophical writings of Friedrich Nietzsche at the turn of the previous century.

And because kjirsten is the conduit through which these works come, hidden within, inevitably there is a stream of confessional memoir similarly hidden and found here as in the poetry of Sylvia Plath. With each piece that you personally view, feel, and sit with, your own memoir is being written here, between, as well.


One Comment

  1. Really amazing art, Kjirsten. Thanks for making it accessible through a web page. 2-5

Leave a Reply