In true-crime books and tv shows, there’s always the point where somebody calls the handwriting profiler to do a behavioral analysis on some unknown criminal’s signature or a quick note left on a scrap of paper. Who is this person and what does their haphazard crossing of t’s and slanted letter o’s say about them? Artist Annie Vought is also fascinated by handwriting in connection to identity but in a more emotional and artistic sense.
Working with pieces of paper, the Oakland-based artist cuts sentence after sentence from large sheets of paper turning personal letters into physical objects. Sometimes the pieces are legible, meant to be read letter for letter, while others a chaotic tangle of typography, meant to covey more of a feeling than a message. She shares in an interview with the Art Museum of Sonoma County:
In the penmanship, word choice, and spelling the author is revealed in spite of him/herself. A letter is physical confirmation of who we were at the moment it was written, or all we have left of a person or a period of time. I also think a lot about the relationship between the public and the private, or more specifically about how the private side of ourselves can be made public. I want to be respectful of people, but I recognize that I’m actively exposing them through their written communications. But in the exposure is a vulnerability we all share. I’m interested in human relationships, overall— the ones we have with ourselves and others.
Of particular note in Vought’s work over the last few years is a mammoth piece titled “Gosh I’ve been here before,” a 41″ x 53″ cut paper sculpture of words and patterns that spirals like the rings of a tree. You can explore it up close and inquire about it over on Artspace. You can see a bit more of her work on Instagram and through Jack Fischer Gallery.