Elizabeth Dove: It Started with Aardvark is comprised of a series of 26 screen-prints, one for each letter of the alphabet that includes every illustration from the dictionary, with images organized by letter. They do not portray the 3,100 dictionary illustrations as separate images as they represented in the dictionary volume. Instead, they are overlapped in successive layers printed one on top of another so they co-exist as one merged graphic icon, a hybrid of all visual knowledge.
Each heavily layered print becomes a gestural, somewhat haunted composite which is both legible and chaotic—a dense logo of information. On average, each print has more than 100 layers, with some letters having more illustrations. This colossal act of manual labor helps to form the conceptual basis of the project and is integral to the meaning of the completed artwork.
Exclusively using illustrations appropriated from a canonical cultural framework shared between the artist and viewer (the dictionary) quickly suggests the artwork is engaging in a conversation about meaning. The action of making is almost a performance that remains embodied in the work as a ritual dedicated to the beauty of deciphering deeper knowledge and aesthetic presence. Due to the successive layers, the prints are textural as the ink is built one layer upon another, thus redefining the original illustrations as both 2- and 3 dimensional.
Charles M. Bair Family Trust
Al and Jayne Winegardner Fund for Exhibitions
Gordon McConnell and Betty Loos