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Jan Owen Art

Our age of computer technology is as exciting as when Gutenberg developed the printing press. While digitized information soars through space, I write with pens and brushes. Independent of technology, the power and beauty of words are constant; the depth of thought and leap of metaphor are vital. The complex rhythm of our bodies; our breath and our gestures found in handwritten letters still captivates me.

Calligraphy is the craft of abstract line becoming letter. The letters combine to make words and a visual conversation begins between writer and reader. I select words that have rhythm and meaning, then hand letter them into artist books and panels. I want to call attention to words through design and form in an object of beauty.

I write on handmade papers, colorful paste decorated paper and on translucent Hollytex. My tools are metal pens and fine brushes dipped in sumi and acrylic inks. For more texture, I weave painted Tyvek shapes into the paper. My work is inspired by Medieval and Asian arts and calligraphy, music and literature.

Jan was awarded a Maine Artist Fellowship for 2019. She makes handmade books and panels incorporating words by various authors and hand lettered onto handmade papers or as hanging scrolls. She wants to draw the viewer in with color, pattern, texture or a brush mark. She has collaborated with Maine poets John Tagliabue, Wes McNair, and Stuart Kestenbaum. In the summer of 2019, Jan will be exhibiting at the international book fair in California in February. She will have work in the ‘Darkness and the Light’ exhibit at the Institute of Contemporary Art at the Maine College of Art. in the summer, her work is shown at CRAFT in Rockland. She will be teaching a class at Maine Media in May and at the USM summer book arts program.


Jan Owen at work