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[BKARTS] Inaugural calligrams – book artist re-writes Obama’s address

Inaugural calligrams – artist re-writes Obama’s address

Inspired by the frequency and choice of words in President Obama’s inaugural address, British book artist David Esslemont has created a series of pen-drawn compositions or calligrams to illustrate his latest book. My Fellow Citizens will be published at the Codex Book Fair in Berkeley, California, on Monday 9 February.

The drawings are based on word frequency and while at first glance they may look like woolly scribbles each one is in fact made up of pen-drawn words. The image used for the cover is based on the whole of President Obama’s 2,418-word speech, while each of the fourteen illustrations is based on the text on the facing page. For example: if you analyze the word frequency of the whole speech ignoring common verbs, pronouns, prepositions and indefinite articles etc, you find the following words occur most often: nation (11), new (11), America (10). These are represented in the calligram by large red words. Words occurring four or eight times, e.g. people, spirit, today and God, are drawn in smaller blue letters, and black ink is used for all 171 words that occurred two or three times, e.g. peace, power, hope and prosperous. Words occurring only once were not used.

For the illustrations, all the words used in the text on the facing pages are represented: red is used for a frequency greater than or equal to 4, blue for a frequency greater than or equal to 2, and black for words appearing once.

Esslemont said he was “Inspired by the fervor of the nation at the prospect of a new America, and with a spirit of hope, I joined countless other people to watch President Barack Obama deliver his inaugural address on 20 January 2009. I read the carefully chosen words of this sober speech with interest, admiration and curiosity – to decipher the rhetoric of the author(s) at this auspicious moment in American history.”

David Esslemont is an award-winning British artist, designer, printer, bookbinder and publisher from the northeast of England who now lives in Decorah, Iowa. His work can be found in private and public collections worldwide.

Read more about the new book, My Fellow Citizens and see more images on the artist’s Web site www.solmentes.com.

The second biennial Codex International Book Fair will be taking place from Monday 9 to Wednesday 11 February in the Pauley Ballroom on the campus of the University of California Berkeley. The ballroom is near the intersection of Telegraph Ave. and Bancroft way. The fair is rapidly becoming the “world’s fair” of the book as art and artifact. Over 110 artists from around the globe will be exhibiting what amounts to “a staggering panoply of riches.”

Contact: David Esslemont (563) 382-1220

1990 Fox Hollow Road, Decorah, Iowa, IA 52101, USA

esslemont@xxxxxxx www.solmentes.com

more images/different file formats are available


David Esslemont
563 382 1220

My Fellow Citizens: President Obama's Inaugural Address will be published by Solmentes at the Codex Book Fair in Berkeley

Codex Book Fair


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This page last changed: May 19, 2009