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Dimensions: 30 inches wide, 36 inches deep, 2-sided
Medium: Inkjet on matte paper
Artist's narrative: Contemporary readers of letter 121 are hearing from the great Dayton poet, Paul Laurence Dunbar, in a declining state and nearing his 1906 passing from tuberculosis [diagnosed 1899]. Dunbar's illness necessitated treatment in a time before antibiotics, and the popular treatment was to use whiskey to manage extreme pain. This contributed to Dunbar’s addiction to alcohol, which is context for the sometimes unclear nature of events and decisions of his that warranted Dunbar to issue this response.
The letter has moments of self-disparaging humor or sarcasm and is plagued with a frankness and profuse apologies of wrongdoings, all to Professor Pearson. This feeling of anxiety and shame, yet high spirits amidst rough rough times, comes across as sincere to the reader. This genuine outpouring of honesty and humiliation is represented on the poster through the typographic texture pouring out of the hand-drawn whiskey bottle.
The type palette includes Alegreya (serif), by Juan Pablo del Peral from Argentina and Petala Pro (sans-serif) designed by Marconi Lima from Brazil, and were selected via direct inspiration of faces used in The Dayton Tattler, published by Dunbar.
Paul Laurence Dunbar, Ohio History, Typography, Graphic Design, Literary, Black History
Heisey, Quinn, "Similar Flow" (2023). Life in Letters: A Typographic Poster Exhibition Featuring Paul Laurence Dunbar. 26.