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kjirsten severson is from the Black Hills of South Dakota and currently resides in Portland, Oregon. Sie began hir official journey into philosophy in graduate school, first in Washington, DC and then in Pittsburgh, PA. Pittsburgh had an especially compelling impact on hir. Studying philosophy within the environment of a stunned and stunning city proved a potent opportunity to feel hir humanity rawly and with a sweet, sharp poignancy, so much so, sie felt completely altered, unpredictably, even to hirself.

Before leaving Pittsburgh for an extended road trip with no return date, sie was given a Smith&Corona typewriter as a gift. After three or four or six months on the road (sie can’t remember), hir van broke down in Portland, OR, land of the unemployed over-educated. After the Black Hills and Pittsburgh, sie felt like sie was home for the third time in hir life. Without the demands of a daily job and thanks to generous friends, kjirsten began typing on the typewriter in hir studio apartment overlooking NE 9th and Roselawn. First annoyed by the little “nothings” that seemed to be piling up, sie gradually began to see what they were doing. Awed and humbled, sie stopped resisting. The result is a 350 page manuscript sie hopes to publish under the title, an unnarrated memoir.

As the memoir was revealing itself, kjirsten was taken hold by a relentless desire to make the little “nothings” big – very, very big. Soon, with the help of quite a few local artists, sie concocted a system for re-producing the pages of the memoir twelve times their typing paper size, in other words, 8 ½’ x 11’. Hir ultimate desire is to create a “walking book” – an installation from the first chapter an unnarrated memoir, and if the stars align, to keep producing such installations until the last chapter has its chance to see daylight as well as the first, and all those in between.


kjirsten severson – artist statement

I began my journey into art making by attempting to write my dissertation in Western philosophy outside academic language. I found that typing on an old 1936 Smith&Corona typewriter facilitated that aim. However, I was not prepared for what did follow: Any readily recognized narrative became invisible and more space than words began to take over the paper. As the pages accumulated I began to see the complexities hidden in their simplicity, they earned my reverence, and I soon was hit with a tenacious desire to make them “big”.

With the help of local artists, I gained the knowledge and resources necessary to create a “giant typewriter” – enlarging my typewriter symbols several times over and burning them onto silk screens. Each symbol is inked individually by hand onto the canvas. I consider this art an ode to type and paper as well as to the bizarreness of human existence.

Currently, I best describe these pieces as an attempt to see and feel a different human-ness by breaking into the general “us” and the specificity of me, via cutting and stuttering language and its spaces, especially those key words and absences that frame our fundamental assumptions, but that we tend to rely upon without notice.


One Comment

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

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