Palimpsest honors retiree’s legacy

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Palimpsest honors retiree’s legacy

Bell explains that her legacy includes her work and her experiences. Photo: Nathaniel Hendry

The Division of Art + Design will host a calligraphy art exhibition featuring works by Kathryn Bell and other Southeastern artists   in the Sargent Art Building from Oct. 1 to Nov. 30.

Bell served in the Division of Art + Design for many years and as the coordinator of the art education program before retiring. She will discuss the exhibit, titled Palimpsest: Exploring Contemporary Calligraphy, during a talk on Oct. 12 at 6 p.m. in Levinson Hall.

During her talk, Bell plans to discuss her experience and legacy at BJU. “Legacy is a period of time, but it’s also what you gained during that period of time and what you leave behind during that time,” Bell said.

A palimpsest is a multi-layered manuscript.
Photo: Nathaniel Hendry

Dr. Jared Stanley, the Art + Design faculty member who organized the exhibition, said the theme symbolizes the goal of the legacy show.

“Palimpsest”  denotes the ancient scribal practice of scraping the original writing off a manuscript to reuse the parchment. Over time the older ink remnants would resurface, creating a layered effect. Similarly, the legacy shows recognize retired art faculty members, such as Bell, by bringing their art back into visibility.

“I want to make sure that [Bell] is honored for her years of service and her dedication to the Lord through her artwork,” Stanley said. Bell has over 40 years of calligraphy and lettering experience and taught classes in art education, calligraphy and lettering.

“I enjoyed teaching very much; it was really exciting to me to be a part of the faculty,” Bell said.

Stanley said he wanted to highlight contemporary calligraphy as art itself, apart from its usual tangential use of embellishing other messages. “We wanted to see how calligraphy or lettering has been used or elevated into a different sense, into almost a complete work,” he said.

Jay Bopp, chair of the Division of Art + Design, said,“What we’re doing with this exhibition is sort of taking something that tends to be a little more commercial and making it a little bit more artistic.”

Stanley said the expansion of digital graphics has caused many calligraphy artists to experiment with unique ways of making calligraphy more aesthetic.

Bell explains that her legacy includes her work and her experiences.
Photo: Nathaniel Hendry

For example, instead of traditional quill pen or nib writing, works may feature brushed ink lettering, inscribed wording, three-dimensional lettering or incomplete letter writing, Bopp said.

This exhibition is the first time in three decades BJU has sponsored a calligraphy exhibit that includes artwork from artists outside the University. Bell helped jury submissions by calligraphy artists in the Carolinas and from BJU alumni to include in the exhibition space.

In jurying, judges evaluate submitted works for their artistic merit and relevance to the theme.

Including outside artists in future legacy shows will help BJU honor the contributions of leading artists. Past legacy shows have been dedicated to retired Art + Design faculty members such as Carl Blair, Darell Koons, Jim Brooks, John Roberts and Dave Appleman.

Legacy is a period of time, but it’s also what you gained during that period of time and what you leave behind during that time. — Kathryn Bell

Bell has also been featured previously at the annual Homecoming Makers Market and at shows in her home studio.

Palimpsest, originally scheduled for last year but delayed because of COVID-19, is the first of a series of exhibitions featuring artists from outside the University. 

“The idea is that these will overlap with Homecoming as well so that all these will be encouraging our alumni to be involved with the school,” Stanley said. “That can benefit them by being in a show—that helps them as an artist—and it helps us as we bring more attention to what we’re doing in this department.”