Symbolic Text

full collage with symbolic text

 I’ve been thinking lately about using symbolic text in my artwork.  Letters and words at their core are just a mix of curved and straight lines.  Language is the art of taking those lines and giving them meaning. The result is that when we write down certain line shapes in certain order, we understand the meaning behind the markings.  It’s pretty fascinating to think of text in this way- as symbols we use to communicate thoughts and ideas to each other.  Without understanding how these lines and curves form letters, words, and sentences, language is meaningless.

collage with symbolic text

 In that sense, how does text add symbolic meaning to our artwork?  For example, the word “memory” above- how does this word gain additional meaning as part of my collage?  How does my collage become more symbolic through the use of this word?  The words we include in our art become more than just words- they serve as symbols on multiple levels and lend our art a depth that is difficult to achieve in any other way.  What are your thoughts on adding text to your artwork?

4 replies
  1. trisha too
    trisha too says:

    Okay, first, let me say this collage is beautiful, and the use of text here, especially something with the wide net of “memory”–very effective, very evocative.

    Also, essentially what Claudia said. I’ve been avoiding using phrases or words lately, just to see where things go . . . which is tough, because I love using quotes and proverbs. 🙂

  2. Claudia MB
    Claudia MB says:

    I’ve also been thinking about what it means to add words to my collages. Is it a cop-out? A short-cut? Sometimes I think so, and am afraid it might limit what the piece could be about. Perhaps I don’t trust the images to stand on their own? Other times, the word is central and increases the mystery or opens up new meanings.

    • Anjuli Johnson
      Anjuli Johnson says:

      Thanks for your thoughts, Claudia. Interesting perspective. My problem is the opposite I think- I add text all the time. I need to challenge myself not to do it and see what I can create without it.


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