My primary medium is a manual typewriter. I use this early tool of secretaries to craft images of women. I create portraits with text to allude to the idea that our lives are the creations of our minds and social construction.
In the series Textual Portraits, I create works that visualize the historical context of American women’s lives and convey a sense of social heritage. Images of contemporary women emerge from classic social texts, just as they emerge into specific contexts of time and place. The titles in this series reference academic citation. For example, Lindsay (Taylor Mill 1851) is a portrait of potter Lindsay Oesterritter created with excerpts from “The Enfranchisement of Women” written by Harriet Taylor Mill in 1851. The excerpts address women’s ability for high achievement in society. Lindsay embodied the social changes that Taylor Mill argued for when she was awarded the highest honor for faculty research in 2013 at Western Kentucky University.
In addition to my literary use of the typewriter, I embrace the technical challenge of creating fluid imagery using a rigid machine. The uniformity of the typewriter’s character spacing makes a grid that I use to form visual patterns within a portrait. In a recent series, I create images through repetition of the alphanumeric character “O,” a symbol of nothingness and void as well as infinity, fullness, and pure potentiality.