Thomas Ingmire Calligraphy and Poetry in Collaboration
San Francisco—The San Francisco Public Library’s Book Arts & Special Collections Center is pleased to present Visual Poetry: a Lyrical Twist, featuring Thomas Ingmire’s unique modern and expressive calligraphy in the creation of collaborative works with eleven contemporary poets. Poetry readings open the show on November 17, 2018, at 1:00 p.m., in the Koret Auditorium, with a reception to follow. The exhibition is on view through March 31, 2019, in the Jewett Gallery, Main Library.
Bay Area poets Jack Hirschman, Dean Rader and Tsering Wangmo Dhompa are featured along with poets Li-Young Lee, Robert Bringhurst, David Annwn, Christine Kennedy, Geraldine Monk, Alan Halsey, Allen Fisher and Robert Sheppard. The exhibition features unique artists’ books—works that build on a tradition of visual artists and poets being inspired by each other.
Ingmire has been a practicing calligrapher since 1977 and currently lives and works in San Francisco. For the last 20 years, he has concentrated on the making of artists’ books, exhibiting widely in the United States and abroad. In describing Visual Poetry: a Lyrical Twist Ingmire writes, “For over three decades, I have drawn on poetry typically associated with modern calligraphy, including texts by William Blake, Arthur Rimbaud, Dylan Thomas, Denise Levertov, and Wallace Stevens. Traditional characteristics of elegant writing and decoration have been part of my work, but I was also interested in the pictorial possibilities of language itself: the word as image, and the expressive potential of calligraphy to capture the emotion and atmosphere of a text. This involved the creation of new non-traditional letterforms and testing the limits of various techniques including distortion, fragmentation, shifts in placement of text, composition, and color. I am intrigued by the ways these adjustments can influence the reception and meaning of a poem.
In this exhibit I continue the visual interpretation of poetry, but attempt something additional. Working in collaboration with contemporary poets, I have incorporated their actual voice, concerns, and interests. Trying to find a working language for engagement with the poets led to the idea of making music part of the collaboration process. Music not only served as a linking device, but an inspiration for both calligraphy and the poetry. Connecting words to music opened new doors for my thinking about meaning, which in turn led to new images, letterforms, and page compositions. I hope this exhibition—resulting in books, drawings, and broadsides—invites your own broadening experience with the poetry you will read and see here, as well as your involvement with poetry in the future.”
Jack Hirschman, Dean Rader, and Tsering Wangmo Dhompa are poets residing in the Bay Area. Li-Young Lee, from Chicago, is a recent recipient of the Levinson prize for his poem, “Changing Places in the Fire.” Robert Bringhurst, from Canada, and David Annwn, Christine Kennedy, Geraldine Monk, Alan Halsey, Allen Fisher, and Robert Sheppard, all from the UK, have been associated with the British Poetry revival. The exhibition features unique artists’ books and framed wall pieces, including a 35 foot long rendition of Li-Young Lee's poem.
Thomas Ingmire: Biography
Thomas Ingmire was born in 1942 in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. He received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Landscape Architecture and worked in the field in the early 1970s before discovering calligraphy. In 1977 he joined English master calligrapher and illuminator Donald Jackson’s one-year postgraduate study, and subsequently became the first foreign member to be elected as a Fellow of England’s Society of Scribes and Illuminators. In 1980, Ingmire was granted a Newberry Fellowship for the continuing study of calligraphy.
Ingmire’s early work focused on teaching and calligraphic research involving the exploration of calligraphy as a fine arts medium. He has taught workshops throughout the United States, Canada, Australia, and several countries in Europe as well as in Japan and Hong Kong.
Ingmire has exhibited widely in the United States and abroad. His works can be found in numerous special collections in public and university libraries, and museums throughout the United States, including the San Francisco Public Library; the Library of Congress; The Morgan Library, New York; The New York Public Library; The Newberry Library, Chicago; Stanford University Library; University of California, Los Angeles; Beinecke Library, Yale University; Lorca Foundation, Spain; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Letterform Archive, San Francisco; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; the Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry, Miami; the Victoria & Albert Museum, London; Stiftung Archiv der Akademie der Künstem Berlin, Germany, and many other public and private collections.
Since 2002, Ingmire has concentrated on the making of artists’ books. He has embarked on a number of collaborative projects, including a series of artists’ books with poetry by Pablo Neruda and Federico Garcia Lorca and original drawings by Manuel Neri; work as an illuminator on the St. John’s Bible; and two major series of works with a number of contemporary poets.
The exhibition is sponsored by the Marjorie G. and Carl W. Stern Book Arts and Special Collections Center of the San Francisco Public Library. The center houses highly esteemed collections, including the Robert Grabhorn Collection on the History of Printing and the Development of the Book, the Richard Harrison Collection of Calligraphy and Lettering, and the Schmulowitz Collection of Wit and Humor.
High resolution images available upon request.
Visual Poetry: a Lyrical Twist – Nov. 17-March 31, 2019, Main Library, Jewett Gallery
Opening event poetry readings – Nov. 17, 1 p.m., Main Library, Koret Auditorium