For more than thirty years, I have been a lettering artist. Or I might say for my entire life, since my love of letters began early and has not waned. Whether it’s paleography, the long and fascinating history of alphabets, or learning contemporary styles and foreign writing systems, I have yet to find any field that offers such a range of exploration and expression.
Fortunately I had public school teachers who shared and encouraged my interests, and I also studied calligraphy formally at Daemen College in Buffalo, New York, where I earned a BS in Art Education. Living in Sonoma County, California in the 1970s gave me more opportunities to study, teach and practice calligraphy and papermaking in a region that values the lettering arts. Sumner Stone, Brian Elder and Barbara Bash encouraged me, as did the fledgling Friends of Calligraphy. Attending international calligraphy conferences has provided in-depth study with the best teachers in my discipline, and expanded my views and interests. Notably Suzanne Moore, Thomas Ingmire, Carl Rohrs and Maury Nemoy provided insights which I am still developing.
Since coming to Lewisburg, Pennsylvania in 1980, I have done many commissioned works, eventually opening my studio full-time as PenSylvania Calligraphy in 1988. An advantage of living in a small lively university town like Lewisburg is that clients ask for all sorts of projects, and I have a “just-say-yes” policy! Book covers, wall installations and wedding documents have been the most challenging work. Also I offer classes and workshops in formal calligraphy and fun book arts.
In 2004, I was privileged to design a range of inscriptions for animated projections in The Alexandria Carry-On, a solo music performance about the ancient library. All the artists involved in the piece traveled to Egypt to present the work at the new library in Alexandria. This was the launching of the world tour of this original and beautiful piece, premiered at Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble, PA; Bucknell University; The Ko Festival in Amherst, MA; and The Walters Museum in Baltimore.
Some recent series I have exhibited regionally are “Insects and Literature” (drawings with broad edge pens paired with quotes), “Albert Einstein” (colorful samples of Einstein’s philosophy), “Wildflowers” (collages with prints from a 1932 field guide, handmade paper and cut calligraphy) and “Out of Obligation, Into Desire” (small books, collages and paper weaving). “Leaps and Boundaries” was my 2005 solo exhibition as a founding member of Out of The Blue Gallery, whose centerpiece was “Herons and Cranes” a standing diptych with text extending into reeds, blurring the experience of visual and verbal comprehension. (Originally this idea was commissioned for silk chair upholstery.) In 2006 my solo show was titled “Views”, featuring eight groups of quotes and paintings addressing many perspectives of seeing and perception.
I participate in many area group shows and projects, design logos and signs, and work part-time at the Samek Art Gallery of Bucknell University. My current explorations include Celtic design, collage, pastel and glass painting, and word mandalas.
You can contact me at nanso(at)dejazzd(dot)com.