Text, Paratext, and Images
As a form of communication, text conveys information and meaning. It also presents an opportunity for interpretation and artistic engagement. Paratext—literally “beside text”—includes the more subtle associations a text carries, including reference notes, inscriptions, and the style of lettering chosen. When artists combine image with text and paratext, new layers of interpretation are introduced, and new spaces of discourse are created.
This exhibition examines the relationships between text, paratext, and image. Examples from Qur’an manuscripts to historical Japanese prints to contemporary works explore text as decoration and reveal the aesthetic qualities manifested in stencil, print, and manuscript forms. These works also highlight how different manipulations of texts and images signal social class, education, and other cultural hierarchies and norms, and how intercultural exchange can take place through the juxtaposition of different languages and the circulation and interpretation of works that pair text and image.
Text, Paratext, and Images is curated by Kuan-Hung Liu (Brown PhD 2023, History of Art and Architecture) and Kimia Rahnavardi (RISD MDes 2020, Interior Architecture, Adaptive Reuse).