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Handwritten is a place and space for pen and paper. We showcase things in handwriting, but also on handwriting. And so, you'll see dated letters and distant postcards alongside recent studies and typed stories. 

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Filtering by Tag: Play

My Students on Rikers Island Had Some Things to Say Saturday • Edyson King Julio

Brett Rawson

Edyson King Julio teaches creative non-fiction writing class at Rikers Island. For his students, the pen and paper is their only outlet. It's less about the actual writing they produce, he told us, but more so how they experience the process, and how the process helps them understand decisions they've made in their lifetime. During the two-hour classes, he prompts discussions for his 13 students around politics, community, and identity.  The students carry the conversations in directions unimagined. Edyson sits down, listens, and just writes. The above are a few of the things his students said in a recent class.

I Let The Castaways Speak to Me • Deborah Halbfoster

Brett Rawson


I watch as people I know are simplifying their lives. They cast away their once-favorite and now-dogeared books. I started asking questions. "What book had the biggest impact on you?" Or, "What book changed your life?" Catch 22 is my stepson's favorite book. He wanted it commemorated in some way. This is my gift to him.

If you step up very close to the frame, away from the sunlight, you will note that a square has been incised in the cover of "Catch-22." As if peaking into the book through the cutout square, you read, "There was only one catch and that was Catch-22. Orr was crazy and could be grounded.  All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions."  "That's some catch, that Catch-22" he observed. "It's the best there is," Doc Daneeka agreed.  And now, on the wall, in front of our eyes.

Some hold the cover of a book sacred. To cut one into pieces, let alone write on it, would be a destruction. But I see this as my way of showing devotion to a tattered and well-thumbed old friend whose pages are yellowed and wrinkled. I look at what is left of the book, its remains, and let myself take one last stroll through the words and phrases that I have, over time, highlighted and commented on in margins. By preserving them in this form, I present them once again to the viewer, once again alive and new.

This one requires more squinting. Perhaps a flashlight. But that would be appropriate when you read the quotes: they shed light on the confusing edges of complexity. "There is not love of life without despair about life." "Since we're all going to die, it's obvious that when and where doesn't matter." 

I let the castaways speak to me, provide me with words and space for their resurrection. If they remain mute, I do nothing. I leave them be.

I wrote my favorite quotes on the black Setting Sun in white ink, going in circles around the table top as I wrote because this is the way the sun took me. "Last Year nothing happened / The year before nothing happened / And the year before that nothing happened."

As I circle the book, I ask myself, how many years of our life can we say that? Hanging it on the wall is an act, a reminder, a question. Did nothing happen? Did I miss what happened? 

Deborah Halbfoster is often seeing walking away. She enjoys the peace of being left alone, but also leaving, wondering, and wandering. A graduate of Rutgers University (English Literature), Deborah worked in Human Resources for years until quitting to take care of her aging mother. It led her back to writing, creating collages, painting in watercolors and ink, and finding 'her' again, outside of a work environment. Walking away is always walking towards something else.


A Fortress of Order Within Chaos • Ingrina Shieh

Brett Rawson


Urban landscapes have always enticed to me. I love how lines intersect with other lines and the way shapes within, through, on top of other shapes create the towering skyscrapers we recognise so well. At a distance, city skylines emanate a beautiful stillness and unflinching majesty while within them pulses the movement and sounds of millions of lives. People, machines, and people on machines, darting around at a frenetic pace; opportunities opening and shutting before me. It exhausts and excites me. And though I’m constantly surrounded by people, I can sometimes feel the loneliest I’ve ever felt. Such contrasts hold me captive between repulsion and absolute adoration, so I‘ve come to simply accept the city as it is: a fortress of order within chaos. 

It thus seemed fitting that I design my first hand drawn 2017 calendar based on cities of the world. I don’t know what possessed me to draw it rather than design it with software, but once I got the idea, it stuck. I also thought working with cityscapes by hand might help me learn the basics of design and drawing: how to put lines and shapes together and how light hits objects at certain angles.

Naturally, I started off with the city I call home — London — though I had already done practise sketches with Venice and Boston. This sketch took a good deal longer and involved more ruler-ing and erasing than I’d anticipated, but two days before 1 January 2017, my shaky hands committed the sketch to ink, and I even embossed ‘2017’ for the hell of it.

As a tribute to Londoners, I added a quote by George VI: It’s not the walls that make the city, but the people who live within them. The walls of London may be battered, but the spirit of the Londoner stands resolute and undismayed. The end result is not completely what I had envisioned — a little flat, lacking in character and depth, a little boxy — and I realise that I need to upgrade my drawing pens. But this first step has provided a foundation for the coming months’ designs and further ideas to zoom into cities on a micro level.

I’m excited about interacting differently with the iconic buildings I see so regularly in person and online. In drawing London, an unexpected intimacy came from having to examine details — ornate and simple — and deciding how to transfer them to paper. When I passed Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster during my early morning run, I noticed how many elements I missed or couldn’t fit onto the page. But, by studying it as I had, I was able to appreciate its grandeur and craftsmanship more deeply and to admire the fact that, long ago, this icon was borne out of someone’s careful etchings on paper.

Ingrina Shieh lives and works in London, where she is learning design and lettering in her small loft. When her hands are hurting, she takes her legs out to run, walk, or cycle around London's windy streets. Or she goes to buy more paper and pens.

The Viewer has the Freedom • Tatiana Roumelioti

Brett Rawson



Inspired by ancient languages, healing symbols and manuscripts
in 2012 I started to create an aesthetically similar variety
of my own imaginary writings and hieroglyphs.
My work holds no intentional hidden meanings. 
However it appears enigmatic
and the viewer has the freedom to make their own sense out of them.
I mostly use marker pen on paper
and usually write from left to right,
sometimes vertical and rarely right to left and diagonally.
I have created many different types of texts and hieroglyphs so far.
I write on a daily basis and it is something i am doing out of immense joy.

click any of the images to see them enlarged

Tatiana Roumelioti is a self-taught and intuitive artist from Athens, Greece. You can see more of her work here.

It Merges Their Work With My Writing Hand • Monica Coughlin

Brett Rawson


In school I learned to write cursive with a fountain pen and I have loved them ever since. I have had many pens, some expensive ones, but none is the workhorse that the Sheaffer Schoolhouse fountain pen has been for me. The ink always flows, it is the Sheaffer or the Cross fountain pen that I turn to the most. For me there is an intimate quality to the handwritten word. I like to write my own words in longhand, but also the words of others'. It merges their work with my writing hand and creates for me a special bond.

Bernie Sanders, in a Mansion, with a Subaru Forrester • Trinity Tibe

Brett Rawson


My fifth grade year, I was addicted to the game of MASH.  Every day before school and at lunchtime, my friends and I would huddle around our spiral notebooks, trying our hands at rudimentary divination. Who would we marry? How many children would we have? What car would we drive?  Would we end up living in mansions or shacks?

Back then, I solidly believed in the institution of marriage, and probably wanted to marry Jonathan Taylor Thomas or Elijah Wood. I wanted 2 or 3 children, though I always left that third slot open for my friend to play a wild card.  More than once it was predicted that I would have 1,000 children.  Wow. I'm thirty, unmarried, and childless. Better get on it. 

Oh, the MASH days, before I paid attention to gas prices or the idea of keeping my privilege in check. At first I wanted a simple convertible, but the game made me greedy.  Soon I was writing "Hummer stretch limo with a hot tub and a personal chef" in tiny letters on the game board. Meanwhile a friend would write in "Clown Car" as my third option. Thank you, whoever you were, for keeping it real.

I loved drawing the game board, perfectly-shaped, filling in the spaces.  I loved saying "Stop!" as my friend spiraled her pencil in the middle box, sealing my fate.  Maybe what I loved most of all was that, no matter what the outcome was, there was always a chance to play again, to keep playing until the perfect future appeared.  

Trinity Tibe is a co-founder of Say Yes Electric Collective, an art community in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, that creates space for diverse artists and encourages collaboration.  She is working on her MFA in Poetry at The New School, and she also loves to draw, paint, and puppeteer. Find her at TrinityTibe.com or @trinitytibe