BETH LEE

Calligrapher | Book Artist

I have been making letters since I can remember, and my fascination with them has grown each year. In 1982, I bought a very bad calligraphy set and began in earnest my study of letters and the spaces that surround them. Now, 35 years and umpteen tools and materials later, I understand how much more there is still to learn.

Whence did the wondrous mystic art arise, of painting speech and speaking to the eyes?
That we by tracing magic lines are taught how to embody and to colour thought.
William Massey

I love words. I love the way they stack tidily or pile loosely together to form the architecture of ideas. Writing stands at the beginning of history. Homer wrote: "Littera scripta manet. Volat irrevocabili verbum." The translation is this: "The written word remains. The spoken word takes wing and cannot be recalled."

The written word connects mankind across the ages. Through their writing, I am connected to poets and thinkers who are long dead. When I copy an illuminated initial, I better understand the perspective of a 7th century Irish monk. When I write out the poem by Rumi, I connect to the joy he experienced 700 years ago.

The act of writing connects the unseen world with the physical world. It crystallizes thoughts and allows them to be turned over and examined, tasted and built upon.

For me, calligraphy is the physical revelation of the structure of the ideas; a reflection of the shape, texture and color of the phrases; and the integration of the words' texture and color with their meanings.

Beth Lee | September 2000 | Tallahassee, Florida