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From its inception I have considered Love Letters a synthesis of analogous imagery, material phenomena and empirical documentation. Data on the fourteen species was gathered primarily through the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) Red List. This comprehensive source along with additional readings on individual species, extinction and environmental studies, relevant websites and materials related to artists and artworks mentioned in these notes, can be found in this Source List.

         Artworks often arise in response to social issues and during the last several decades, works in response to worsening environmental conditions have surged. From Agnes Denes’ sown and harvested two-acre Wheat Field  - A Confrontation in Battery Park City, New York of 1982 to the more recent pastel drawings of melting glaciers by Zaria Forman, art transmutes our deepest concerns into affecting, interdisciplinary works.

          Correspondingly, artwork emphasizing the transient nature of life is also a recurring theme.

James Lee Byars The Perfect Love Letter of 1974 is indisputably inspirational here.  Eva Hesse

used materials such as fiberglass and rubber that degrade over time and Richard Long marks

his walks in remote landscapes in relation to his own scale with raw materials located on site.

Tibetan and Diné sand paintings, by their intentional material dispersal and Dutch Baroque

vanitas still-life paintings depicting decay, signal as well, the facts of our own transitory state.

A picture of the dispersal of of sand ritual from a Tibetan sand mandala.

James Lee Byars

The perfect love letter is I write

I love you backwards in the air, 1974

©James Lee Byars

          Early studies of textile art forms sparked my enduring interest in the subject of materiality with its implications regarding the ephemeral, unpredictable qualities of life. And

I continue consequentially, to experiment with substantive, mutable materials and their literal representation of time and change. The linen squares of the Love Letters also reference the textile as text, exemplified by banners and quilts and more precisely, commemorative handkerchiefs.

Ceremonial dispersal of sand from a  mandala for world peace, the lamas of the Temple of

the Thousand Buddhas, Meurthe River,

Saint-Dié-des-Vosges, France, 2008                   

photograph: Ji-Elle.    

          The marriage of artistic rendering with poetic writing can also be traced historically, particularly in the works of the poet-painters of ancient China. The associated term, the Three Perfections, signifies their adept merging of painting, writing and calligraphy.  My cursive inscriptions relative to the stitched imagery, reflects my wish to effect a comparable sensibility. And in tandem with the embroideries’ disintegrating thread, the inscriptions of impermanent chlorophyll ink metaphorize the fragility of each pictured species.

A picture of a commemorative handkerchief from India.

Handwoven handkerchief commemorating the Prince of Wales’ visit to Jais, India with

poetic text in homage to his patronage, 1875

Collection, Victoria and Albert Museum , London



Shen Zhou (1427-1509), Turtledove Calling for Rain

Ink on paper hanging scroll, National Palace Museum, Taipei

A scroll entitled Turtledove Calling for Rain by Shen Zhou
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