The power in the pen is people, which is why we hosted Pen to Panel. It was our third of three events with The Smithsonian's Archives of American Art. Curator of Manuscripts Mary Savig doesn't believe handwriting is a dying art, and we agree, which is how we bonded, and it is which is why we have bonded, and for two months, banded together to help celebrate the launch of their latest anthology, Pen to Paper. We were thrilled to host this culminating event at The Sketchbook Project's newly-renovated home, which is the permanent home of the Brooklyn Art Library and houses thousands of sketchbooks from around the globe. We're in the midst of creating a short film from the event, as we recorded the conversation, but in the meantime, we hope you'll enjoy some of the images from the night, as well as info on the five wild minds that joined us to talk shop.
Info on our Five Panelists:
Mary Savig brings to the table years of experience in one of the largest archives today: The Smithsonian's Archives of American Art. We first bonded during a snowstorm. It happened to be National Handwriting Day, which is not only the best time to get snowed in, but the best time to write by hand. She doesn't believe that handwriting is a dying art, and we agree, which is why we bonded in the first place, but then banded together to create this collaboration and conversation. She talked about the issues archives face, how they keep the past present, and what steps The Smithsonian is taking to embrace the technologies of the future.
Luis Jaramillo is the author of The Doctor’s Wife, winner of the Dzanc Books Short Story Collection Contest, an Oprah Book of the Week, and one of NPR’s Best Books of 2012. Plot twist: he writes his drafts by hand. Luis talked about this particular experience, but also the role handwriting plays, in general, in the creative writing process. While this is one of the main reasons we were excited to have Luis on the panel, he also happens to be a part of Handwritten's origin story: the platform was first imagined during a course he co-taught called Writing & Publishing Lab at The New School's MFA Creative Writing Program, where he is currently the director.
We were thrilled to be joined by Founder of CursiveLogic Linda Shrewsbury. They have been one of our "Partners in the Pen" since the beginning. Whenever people say cursive writing is dead or dying, we say no it's not. And then we explain to them CursiveLogic: the patent-pending method for teaching cursive that has literally and figuratively reshaped the way students learn cursive in the classroom. Only two years in, CursiveLogic's future is bright, which is one of the things Linda talked about: the future, and reinvention, of cursive writing in the classroom. In addition to homeschooling her own three children, Linda has been privileged to work as a teacher and a college professor in both private and public institutions. Linda received her undergraduate degree from Harvard University and her Masters from Oklahoma State University.
Tullis Johnson is the curator and manager of archives at the Burchfield Penney Art Center. He is what we would call a historical surgeon on Burchfield, but what others would call an emerging Burchfield Scholar. Tullis has organized multiple exhibitions of contemporary and historical significance, including the nationally touring exhibition, Charles Burchfield: Weather Event, which received the Award of Commendation at Museums in Conversation from the Museum Association of New York. You can see his exhibition Blistering Vision: Charles E. Burchfield’s Sublime American Landscapes, which is currently on view at the Burchfield Penney Art Center in Buffalo, NY. Using Burchfield as a portal, Tullis spoke about the necessity of zooming out when we look at the state of handwriting.
Barbara Bash quintuples as a calligrapher, author, illustrator, performance artist and teacher of the creative process. Her love of the alphabet has taken her back to the study of their early origins in the nature: the writing of the world. She has written and illustrated a number of children’s book about trees, bats, urban birds and most recently, True Nature: An Illustrated Journal of Four Seasons in Solitude, which was completely handwritten except for the bar code. The embodied act of handwriting is one of her core practices for self connection. She is currently creating a book (working title, Leaping Letters) that explores why handwriting still matters. You can understand why we could not contain our wild happiness to have had Barbara on the panel.