Merrill Shatzman’s combined silkscreen and woodblock prints, woodcut constructions and artist books evoke the rich history of calligraphy and letterforms. In the brilliant series Alphabetic Excursions Illuminated Manuscripts (2011) Shatzman reinterprets letterforms utilizing woodcut and digital processes and transcribes them into abstract “glyphs” which compose the multiple rich surface planes of each work. The development of these forms from hand cut blocks to digitally redrawn glyphs may be seen in the large digital print 18 Hours, 1420 Miles, 500 Tiles (2011). Shatzman’s personal alphabets no only reference the history of art but also contemporary writing practices such as “wild style” graffiti as is Graffiti Glyphs (2011) in which fibers in the rice paper of one layer in the construction have been meticulously cut out to create exuberant wayward strands. The layering processes that have led Shatzman to expand the picture plane fine a new outlet in the series of Cryptic Writing books that the artist is exhibiting for the first time, in strata of pages and intricate hand cut openwork letterforms, are combine in three-dimensions.
Edie Carpenter, Curator of Word Maps
Director, Curatorial & Artistic Programs, Green Hill Center for North Carolina Art