Juliet Shen has a passion for typography that tends to rub off on those around her. It wasn't unusual for her to show up during this year's Residency with a vintage book that got passed around like illegal contraband. Soon a head would bow over pages of letters and numbers. Then an intriguing conversation with Juliet would begin. One evening, after working all day on-site, she went home and made typographic prints that she offered up to the rest of us. "Do whatever you want with them," she explained as we snapped them up.
During the 2012 Residency when Juliet was only able to join us for a few days, she was inspired to begin an ink drawing practice that has since been uninterrupted The resulting landscapes are lyrical. They somehow manage to evoke a typographical presence. You are drawn in, hoping to read the hidden message but are left blinking as the letters dissolve into black. We want to know how she does this!
Juliet Shen was raised in New York City and ran an independent design firm in Seattle from 1989 to 2012. She now spends her time drawing and printmaking. Her drawings are frequently made on top of letterpress printed backgrounds, and she draws en plein air throughout the year. In 2015, following an artist residency at Willapa Bay AiR, the Cullom Gallery and Studio e mounted a solo exhibition of her paintings. Her work is in the collections of the City of Seattle and Tacoma Art Museum.
Juliet taught typography at the School of Visual Concepts for many years and continues to design custom typefaces. Her font for the Lushootseed language was included in "Type Is Beautiful: The Story of Fifty Remarkable Fonts," by Simon Loxley (2016). Her most recent project was AwanZaman, a multi-script font created in collaboration with the designer of Arabic typefaces, Mamoun Sakkal. She holds a masters degree in typeface design from the University of Reading, UK. Website: www.julietshen.com
Juliet on her Residency experience:
I'm in awe of the postings on the blog that show how ordinary, even ugly things are transformed through the artist's eye and become beautiful. For me right now the Residency is an incredible time of fertilization and challenge. It changes my vision. Because the Duwamish is an intertwining of the things I love to draw and things I hate to draw, I am forced to take a stand on what drawing actually is, beyond recording what you see. It goes to the heart of what making art might be for me personally. You also can't help but love what you have observed so closely. This year I finally realized that people will live on and in the Duwamish as they do on rivers everywhere, polluted or not. So we had better clean it up for them.