Why I Cried After Installing My Solo Calligraphy Show

I was so excited when Brandy from Caffe Luce agreed to let me curate a solo calligraphy show for April 2022. I’ve been itching to show my work publicly. It’s important to me to share the way I digest and interpret language and text via calligraphy and artwork. It’s also important to me to show that calligraphy is alive and well.

I didn’t realize the opportunity would present itself so soon. (Read: I had 1 month to decide on, finish, and frame before installation day!)

Featured in My Solo Calligraphy Show:

How It Started

My intention was to show calligraphic hands, backgrounds, and language thoughtfully and provocatively.

How It Went:

I completed several new works that were waiting in my ideas for years. And then I dug up some goodies from my portfolio, borrowing a few pieces from friends and family for my solo calligraphy show. I matted and framed some of the pieces for the first time, and damn did they look good! Some just needed a new frame or a good cleaning. As I worked with the calligraphy poems and artwork, I remembered that I didn’t create them to keep them forever. I made them so other people could see and enjoy them.

Why I Asked to Show My Calligraphy

A relatively new influence on me, Renowned Calligrapher Denis Brown, gave a talk at a calligraphy conference several years ago. He asked what greater story we were trying to tell with the calligraphy. Apart from the executions of skill and form, “What will you do with it?”

I’m trying to inspire introspection. So, I (frantically) packed my treasures up along with my supplies and went down to the coffee shop. I took the time to group and balance the calligraphy pieces. It was hard for me to choose favorites to feature because I loved them all for different reasons. I featured the ones I was proudest of.

Mounting the Artwork

The coffee cup painting is pictured on the table because the hanger snapped off right when I got to the coffee shop! I brought it home to reframe and put it up the next morning.

I set all my work out on the empty tables and decided what to hang together. Then I dove in, uneventfully putting each piece up. The barista was occupied; there were two other patrons. I felt a little weird at first that no one had authority over what I was doing. Come to think of it. I didn’t ruin my solo calligraphy show by doubting myself or shying away from it.

The Good Part

I walked around in one last loop, making sure all frames were straight (I brought 2 levels) and clean. I snapped several low-quality photos as it was closing time. Even though the barista said I could stay longer if I needed to, I was trying to hurry!

I packed up my tiny hammer and picture hangers, the adhesive for my gallery labels, Windex, and paper towels as if I did it every day. I told the barista I’d be back in the morning and headed for the door. I thought, “That wasn’t so bad.”

Ha. I took one step, and my heart felt like it was like leaving my children behind. I didn’t know just how much I loved those pieces until I had to leave them. But, just as with my sons, they’re not meant to stay with me forever. They’re meant to be out in the world, being adored by others. And that’s why I put price tags on most of them. I kept walking, knowing that this was as it should be.

Tears came to lubricate the transition between “no longer” and “not yet”. They came to soothe my pride in myself. They came with the pressure of shedding another identity. The tears cleansed the way for joy to arrive.

And maybe there was a tear when I got home to the mess I still had in my studio.

Here’s to the first solo calligraphy show of many.

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