4/17/10 2:33 PM
Sometimes the voice on the page in the book demands to be made louder, larger, bigger than life. This can be especially important in those cases when that voice is the voice of a child, most especially when that child is a girl-child. In such situations, enter the visual artist, the maker of murals, paintings hung on walls, works that proclaim themselves boldly and cacophonously to more than just one person at a time. Enter the blown-up literary fragments of Colleen Maynard, who makes seven-foot-tall short stories and two-foot-tall sentences, many of them spoken in the voices of unspecified girls. The best of these are the simple sentences Maynard hand-pricks on thick paper, in script that recalls the dotted letters kids trace when learning to write. They also look as if stitched into the paper and then unthreaded, leaving traces that are hard but not impossible to read, effectively delaying and focusing the viewer’s attention on their few words, words that point delicately to a world of unexpected generosity and the obligation to be cheery. Less successful are Maynard’s short stories, which suffer from occasionally jumpy writing and typos. But these too have their charm and wits, written in large loopy letters, in light blue—never pink—ink. It’s that kind of visual play that points to the necessity of presenting these text pieces on the wall instead of on the page. A few more rounds of editing for some, and that’s where they should happily stay.