Dimensions: 30 inches wide, 36 inches tall
Inkjet on matte paper, printed on both sides
Work displayed here as a diptych
Artist's narrative: Letter 174 is addressed to Paul Laurence Dunbar sent from his dear family friend H.A. Tobey. Toward the end of his life, Dunbar struggled to cope with his tuberculosis and turned to alcohol to ease his pain. As his condition worsened, Tobey began to worry about him and wrote him this moving letter of optimism expressing his sympathy regarding Paul living with a painful and deadly disease. The mirroring is showing the side effects of the disease and complications it causes to the spine and nervous system. Having the visual spread outward all throughout the page and enclosing the type further conveys how tuberculosis was taking over his body. Watercolor combined with digital illustrations created an overall feeling of being nervous and desolate — similar to the emotions of Dunbar in 1902 battling tuberculosis. The poster sheds light on the physical and mental struggles Dunbar faced in his medical condition. It shows the undeniable past experiences that have led up to this feeling of distress. The time period in which Dunbar lived and the tone of the letter’s message influenced the type palette choices of an old face and humanistic lineale. Dupincel (oldface) was designed by Rodrigo Saiani; Laca (humanistic lineal) was designed by Joana Correia.
Paul Laurence Dunbar, Dayton history, Black history, Dayton, Typography, University of Dayton, Graphic Design
Graphic Design | Illustration
Grelle, Laurel, "Nervous Conditions" (2023). Life in Letters: A Typographic Poster Exhibition Featuring Paul Laurence Dunbar. 15.