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Alphabet Drawings, 1994

conte, graphite, ink on paper

 

The rotund bearded figure of these images is science fiction writer Samuel Delany, author of Dahlgren, The Einstein Intersection, Stars in My Pockets Like Grains of Sand, and described in the New York Times as "one of America's foremost living science-fiction writers." While visiting Ann Arbor in 1993, Delany admired my paintings of the male nude and offered to model for me, a remarkable experience that unexpectedly led to this body of work.  

 

A year later, as I worked on these drawings loosely based on my photographic session with Delany and three other models, I realized that the images held a special fascination as a set arranged in strict alphabetical sequence.  The familiar order was a map.  I could invent ways to lead the viewer through this landscape and was free to improvise on the geometry suggested by individual letters.  A complete set of drawings based on that session led to a suite of dry point prints and a number of further projects over subsequent years.