Online Exhibition: Draw Your Letters selected by Danny Floyd

About the exhibition

When I was in elementary school, we had to take handwriting as a class. The teacher would hand out lined newsprint and these special pens that were in an odd shape ostensibly to make them easier for small hands to hold and control. She would often say to us, “Be sure to WRITE your letters, class, not DRAW them.” I had absolutely no idea what she meant by this. It wasn’t until I was well into adulthood that, while writing one day, I became distracted by how my hand was moving and how the letters looked, always as unique to me as anyone. “Oh my God! I draw my letters,” I thought. “I get it now.” But rather than shame, I felt pride. It felt like I was doing it right.

Words and pictures are not actually that different. Charles Peirce was a logician who wrote on the nature of how words and images carry meaning and boiled them down to three types: icons, symbols, and indices. An icon is anything you recognize by its resemblance, anything you can call by a name. Symbols carry meaning through rule, law or convention; we have all agreed that + means two things are added together and that a red octagon means stop. An index refers to a cause and effect relationship; where there’s smoke, there’s fire. This is made more fascinating when you consider that these forms are not exclusive to each other. Smoke is an index and an icon. Letters are symbols, but the world of fonts and typography tells us they too are icons with aesthetic qualities. It begs the question, is there really any difference between writing and drawing?

About the selector

Danny Floyd is an artist, researcher, curator, and educator based out of Chicago. At the risk of confusion, his work seeks the narrow threshold between meaning and nonsense in text and images. Often at odds with neuro-normative conventions, he embraces divergent thinking through improvisation and the delightfully weird. He is the Exhibitions Director for Artists’ Cooperative Residency and Exhibition (ACRE) and a Lecturer of Visual & Critical Studies and Sculpture at School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Since 2013, he has been an active part of Chicago’s artist-run space community through two programs, Ballroom Projects and Adler & Floyd. He has held curatorial residencies with ACRE and Chicago Artists Coalition. He was also awarded the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation Curatorial Fellowship in 2017.

Click to view the Draw Your Letters exhibition.