A Mother’s Notations / An Author’s Aspirations
Handwritten words and text have long been a source of inspiration for Philadelphia printmaker Hester Stinnett. For Stinnett, handwriting is an intriguing form of expression that is both universal yet simultaneously unique to each individual. It is a visual and physical manifestation of an individual’s characteristics including their personal history, emotions, and thought process. In past work, Stinnett has frequently included handwritten notes created by her mother, who at the time, was suffering from dementia. These poignant notes reflect her mother’s struggle to remember.
In Stinnett’s most recent series of prints titled Transcriptions, she has coupled portions of her mother’s notations—her lists and reminders, with excerpts of a handwritten manuscript by the author Joseph Conrad. The manuscript is his artist’s manifesto marking his commitment to being a writer. Using two disparate sources, Stinnett has enlarged their words and placed them side-by-side although composed in what appears to be two distinct pages. By nature, there is the inevitable desire to compare these writings contextually and visually. They both at times struggle, cross-out text, and seem to write hurriedly before their thoughts dissipate. Both are purposefully minimal and cryptic, as Stinnett has severely pared down each. But this heightens their purpose, which is reflected in Conrad’s own words when he implores writers to aspire to be true to the “visible universe,” to use the “power of the written word to make you hear, to make you feel…before all, to make you see.” And Stinnett is asking us to do the same.