Vorschriften is a project that relies on invented language to translate intimate details. These paintings use pictographic alphabets to spell out words pertaining to the complex relationships we have with our bodies— particularly things that are uncomfortable, surreal, confusing, traumatic, or abstract. By distorting the relationships between words and their meanings, this collaborative project is an attempt at finding new ways of interacting with shame, and approaching sensitive content with a sense of playfulness. 

This series is inspired by the Pennsylvania Dutch tradition of vorschriften, which were writing samples made in the late 1700s to mid 1800s using a distinctive German calligraphic script called fraktur. The pieces of vorschriften I’ve made here spell out words based on original alphabets, with each letter of the English alphabet corresponding to a personally relevant symbol. As a consequence of the spelling process, disparate symbols are closely arranged within the same composition. This speaks to the idea that conflicting elements— joy and humiliation, self-consciousness and self-confidence, humor and heartbreak— often live together at the same time in the same body. My aim with this experiment, and with my creative practice as a whole, is to give space to this reality.

You can see the most current version of my own alphabet here.

Thank you to the following generous folks who contributed alphabets and/or text to this endeavor: Molly Braswell, Genevieve Cohn, Hannah Doherty, Zachary Handler, Chelsea Harris, Rachel Kobasa, Maria Molteni, Rachel Nagelberg, Jen Nugent, Chelsea Strandberg, and Kayte Young.