Looking at the intention behind artworks that use text:

media used

Tracy Emin

This artist is seen as making a confessional artistic project in all her work. Her messages or commentary in her use of text as art is explicit and carries messages. She uses neon tubes or has sewn them into textiles, but has also written directly onto her works. With these neon works the interesting visual idea is that she uses her signature hand script. To me, this says something about her intent to emphasize the personal nature of words as commentary in her works. The colours of the neon lights are mostly pastel coloured light tubes that illuminate her thoughts and feelings, which talk of fear, love declarations, insults and disappointments.

According to Miguel Ángel Medina (2014:63), this becomes complicated when one looks at artistic intentionality around the relationship between words – state “meanings can be complicating the relationship between artistic intentionality and viewer assumptions, as well as the relationship between words and their multivalent meaning.”

Fig. 1 Faithful to my dream, Tracey Emin, 2012
Fig. 2 I loved you more than I can love, Tracey Emin 2009

I do think the latest news, as recent as 19th January 2022, where she demands the return of her ( £250,000 ) neon ‘More Passion‘ artwork she gifted to Downing Street in 2011, in protest of the ‘shameful’ party gate of the current government, is worth mentioning here. On her Instagram feed she shared the following: “This is my neon that hangs at 10 Downing Street. It was a gift from myself to the Government Art collection. I am now in the process of requesting that my art work be removed from 10 Downing Street.” 

This artist has a ‘confessional’ relationship with her viewers -can even be seen as a type of voyeurism in which viewers find themselves when viewing most of her work.

List of Illustrations

Fig. 1 Emin, T. (2012) Faithful to my Dream [online image] artsy net website images

Fig. 2 Emin, T. (2009). I love you more than I can love [online image]


Medina, M. A. (2014) Tracey Emin: Life Made Art, Art Made from Life. [Pdf online] Available from: [accessed Feb 11 2022].

Warde-Aldam, Digby (2019) Tracey Emin’s Unlikely Journey from Vulgar Upstart to Art World Establishment [online article] At: (Accessed online on 10 February 2022)

Ed Ruscha

Fig. 3 Mark Twain Quote, Ed Ruscha, 2012

According to the Tate website, who is also in possession of a print of above work, Mark Twain Quote 2012 (Tate P20485) appropriates a quip from the autobiography of American author and humourist Mark Twain (1835–1910) It is one of 18 works that the Tate have of Ruscha’s work.

I like how the words appear diagonally and read on the Tate site that he made it in such a way that it transitions from blue to white. Interesting is that behind the quote, in larger print, a more transparent print is written in German. This is a translation of the quote appears (‘DIE ANTIKE HAT ALL UNSERE GROSSEN IDEEN GESTOHLEN’). All the words is done in Capital Letters, does it indicate an intention to place emphasis on words, thus making it the subject? In his other works where he uses images of landscapes, I feel this becomes even stronger.

List of Illustrations

Fig. 1. Ruscha E. (2012) Mark Twain Quote [Lithograph on paper] At (Accessed on 12/02/2022)

Artsy Editors. (2014) Text Message: Typography in the work of Ed Ruscha [online editorial article] Available from:

(Accessed on 12 February 2022)


More artists I viewed after an online press release about an exhibition on the use of text in visual art at the Yi Gallery, Brooklyn, NY from January 8 – March 5, 2022. The exhibition is called, “And, Already, Words.” The press release states that the exhibition is ‘both a love letter to the use of text in visual art and a probe into the power of words as a medium of expression.

Anne Katrine Senstad

Fig. 4 Securities, 2021, Anne K Senstad

In the above work red neon is used to have a philosophical inquiry and make a social political commentary. Clearly the word brings in the Capitalist ideas of having something to trade with, and I think the colour red is also part of the meaning to be find in the work. The work is sensorially stimulating due to the use of a ruby-red text which provides a vehicle for the viewer to reflect. It is part of a series she has started to work which plays with the following fragments of the word: Secure Ties and Securi Ties.

Katherine Duclos

Below is a series, called Low Supply, done with expired breastmilk as the paint. It is part of a bigger series of work where she explores maternal labour, invisible labour, human labour, nonhuman labour. these works are 30.5 x 22.9cm each. One can also view these as ephemeral drawings as over time they will surely change. I read on her Facebook page that the milk becomes more visible over time – giving it permanence, but about a time in the life of a breastfeeding mom, which seems fleeting. Apparently, the milk is invisible when she starts out with work on paper. I do relate to this, as I also breastfed all three of my sons. The last one up till 2 years old. This is most of the time invisible labour by a mother.

Mel Bocher, b 1940, was an American conceptual artist.

At Frieze LA I viewed this work, online:

Labor of Love, Jay Lynn Gomez and Patrick Martinez, 2022. (Courtesy of Charlie James Gallery and Frieze LA. Photo by Maya Garabedian)

I found the following comments by Maya Garabedianon the Fair very interesting: “For some reason, smaller galleries featuring impressive works by lesser-known artists harbored an unfortunate issue that reoccurred throughout the entirety of Frieze: lacking exhibition labels. One such piece was a captivating multimedia work presented by Charlie James Gallery (Los Angeles). Having to speak with the gallery’s on-site director to find the name of the piece and its creators, Labor of Love by local artists Jay Lynn Gomez and Patrick Martinez, forced a realization that became impossible to ignore. Insightful and inspiring works of art would be placed on an otherwise empty wall without any information, let alone the handy QR codes featured on many labels – with a quick scan from a phone’s camera, an artist’s biography and body of work would be at one’s fingertips. In some instances, labels would be present, but dramatically offset from the pertaining work, displayed in a vertical listing of everything nearby. Countless fairgoers seemed to receive the message while passing by such works that they would be needing to do identifying guesswork themselves, subsequently deciding that these works were less of a destination stop on their journey through the fair.”

At the local art fair I visited the past weekend, I had the same issue – information was either not close by, and part of a vertical listing, or only QR codes on labels. It was a busy show – the movement of people, and with Covid still prevailing, I did not, particularly like this.

Luke Butler, Jay Lynn Gomez, Patrick Martinez, Erika Rothenberg, Gabriella Sanchez
Art Toronto 2018
October 25 – 29, 2018

I found a book and believe it relates so well to this part of my studies: The Pleasure of the Text, by R Barthes (pdf download) Throughout my reading and thinking about this part, I was reminded of the experience with words I had in a workshop presented to OCA students by dr B Eccleshall. The workshop was called Chain Reaction, see blog post ( in a new tab) I am thinking about an image translated into words or is it just a type of commentary in words about an image?

Later I came upon an IG post by the New York Art Critic, Jerry Saltz. He tried to illustrate how his process of writing about artworks, or could I say, how he invented his own way “of seeing art’. He describes his process as forming a sort of matrix constellation map of ideas and words and then considering on the map the different approaches he could take – possibilities are written down. He describes his notes as:”…. a sort of night sky I can always look up at and see where I am – or might be going – or search for a way through a problem.” He shares 7 illustrations to explain his making. I took screenshots of a few and share them below:

I think it is apt to share my own exploration with words which was inspired by my Parallel Project around the Fungal Kingdom.

List of illustrations

Fig. Gomez, L.M and Martinez, P. (2022) Labor of Love [stucco, neon, ceramic, acrylic paint, spray paint, latex] Online at: (Accessed on 24/02/2022)

Artfix Dialy, (2022).AND, ALREADY, WORDS: Contemporary Text-based Work at YI GALLERY Viewed online at: (Accessed on 18 February 2022)

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