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Combining the Visual and the Verbal: The Art(s) of Teresa Jordan


Teresa Jordan not only tells stories with words, but uses her own visual art to enrich the reader’s experience.  In her Field Notes from the Grand Canyon, published in 2000, watercolor sketches and her handwritten notes fill some pages, balanced by type-set essays on other pages. In Field Notes from Yosemite, published in 2002, watercolor studies sprinkle the pages. The most recent book, The Year of Living Virtuously (Weekends Off), includes Jordan’s monotype on the cover and a series of “bestiary” cut paper designs at the beginning of certain chapters.

How does a writer shift gears to create visually? How does an artist know what medium will best support the thematic content of the book? And what are the challenges of working with editors on content and illustration? These were some of the questions I explored with Teresa Jordan by phone as she and her husband were driving to Elko, NV for the Cowboy Poetry Festival at the end of January.

Read the article in the February 2015 edition of 15 Bytes.

1 reply »

  1. Sue,
    I think you have tapped into something more than meets the whimsical appearance of this book,
    but the brevity of a discourse yet to be written,
    and you are the ideal artist to initiate its being engaged.
    The discourse of language and its myriad contexts for human understanding and truth,
    and the discourse of the visual and its myriad contexts for human understanding and truth,
    are as old as ancient Greece.
    But the phenomenon of a discourse between language
    and its relationship to the visual for the effort of human understanding and truth,
    at least on an academic level, when considering a synthesis for this dialectic,
    is something new to me.
    Of course the synthesis will always be meaning, but what kind?
    And how did the image synthesize with text to form this meaning?
    Of course we have a history of artists who have used language AS the visual medium,
    but a writer who uses language as a tool, not to, as with illustration, visually manifest what has been written,
    But as another element to the equation; one idea plus one idea equals another completely new idea,
    And I speak of an understanding of this critically.
    And when you are using one idea in the form of language and the other in the form of visual signifier,
    you are using two different vocabularies,
    just as one would extract lemon juice from a lemon and lime juice from a lime,
    just as one would extract meaning from language and meaning from the image,
    you end up with something completely new,
    like lemon-limeade,
    or, as you have so deductively found through your reasoning, Sue,
    These magnetically appealing, visually attractive, and cognitively stirring monotypes
    of a very talented writer and artist Teresa Jordan.
    This article makes me a bit sad, though, because it reads on so many levels,
    and one of those levels is autobiographical of you, Sue,
    and as this very article demonstrates, what a cogent, honest, inquisitive, and keenly intelligent
    writer and art critic you are,
    And what makes me sad is to think of the colleague I might have had
    if you would have devoted your full energies to writing.
    But, as it is, you are being the most altruistic, as being the most generous with your gifts,
    with the most people.
    This was an excellent piece of writing, I enjoyed the questions you asked and the truths you discovered,
    and you are brilliantly gifted in a multiplicity of ways,
    and I will simply have to get over my own feeling of loss and be grateful for the abundance that you are,
    to myself and so many in this community,

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