Download Full Text (54.3 MB)
Dimensions: 30 inches wide, 36 inches tall
Inkjet on matte paper, printed on both sides
Work displayed here as a diptych
Artist's narrative: In Letter 10, Paul Laurence Dunbar articulates his gratitude to a friend, Dr. James Newton Matthews, on the day before Thanksgiving. Matthews was a doctor and poet and one of the cofounders of the Western Association of Writers (WAW). When Dunbar read his poetry at the annual conference of the WAW, Matthews was so impressed that he wrote a newspaper article about him. The story was widely republished, bringing greater attention to Dunbar and his work. This letter that Dunbar sends to Matthews carries two messages, acknowledged on either side of the diptych. The first message exhibits Dunbar’s extensive appreciation for the donations he received to have his book published before Christmas. This is portrayed in the poster against a white background with multiple phrases that emphasize Dunbar’s gratitude to Matthews. With heavier emotion, Dunbar also explains that his success is solely dependent on those who have donated and supported him. His apprehensive tone throughout the letter is rooted in the uncertainty of being able to repay the contributors of his work. This feeling is expressed in the rough charcoal texture that composes the background imagery. The type palette used in the diptych consists of Freight (transitional) and Freight Sans (humanistic lineal), both designed by Joshua Darden. Darden, an African American, worked closely with Timothy Glaser, a white man that Darden had been friends with since high school. Their relationship reflects Paul Dunbar’s friendship with Dr. Matthews as they worked to publish Dunbar’s poetry from his teenage years into his early adult life.
Paul Laurence Dunbar, Poetry, Typography, Black History, Ohio history
Art and Design | Graphic Design
Maloney, John, "The Gratitude I Really Feel" (2023). Life in Letters: A Typographic Poster Exhibition Featuring Paul Laurence Dunbar. 10.