In my search for visual icons

to represent the four elements  identified by the ancient philosophers, the Egyptian hieroglyph for Water rang true, as did a majestic mountain crest for Earth and a classic flame for Fire that suggests both its horror and its beauty. But I could find none to signal Air better than, well, nothing.  “Nothing” captured for me our real sense of the Air we live in and breathe yet remain supremely unaware of--until

we are unable to get enough.

A set of 15-foot liturgical banners created in the early 1990s for St. Thomas More Newman Catholic Student Center, The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. Everything visible as “white” has, in fact, been cut out of the dark fabric, the “counters” being bonded to a netting sandwiched between the front and back fabric layers.

One of three projects chosen by the City of Columbus, Ohio, to commemorate the quincentenary of its eponymous hero’s arrival in the New World was a nine-month long international fair of culture and horticulture on the grounds of the Franklin Park Conservatory called Ameri-Flora. One of its many special exhibits was devoted to bonsai for which four 15-foot  banners were produced from texts I lettered that set out the symbolism and wisdom to be gained in the care and feeding of these remarkable miniature trees.

Hand lettering for a spectacular kitchen in Powell, Ohio, done in the late 1990s. Lettered first as

a “cartoon” on a paper, the short text was transferred to the soffit with pounce and then lettered with a broadedge brush and acrylic paint. The 10” wide soffit ran around two sides of the room. allowing the text to be repeated three times.  

Facing it is a wall of windows that overlook spreading gardens and grounds beyond. Two of these pictures were taken at the time the lettering was done; the third shows it some years later, the upper walls painted a rich Pompeiian red.

That’s me at right,

gold leaf on nose,

deep into gilding the lettering that I designed for an eight-foot panel.

This, a portrait, and four excerpts from his other writings grace a tiny chapel honoring

St.Thomas More,

patron saint of

the Newman

Catholic Student

Center at OSU.

Its text here is a prayer by

More for patience--with wisdom and a sense

of humor. The panels

at left, of quotations from his writings, are laid out so that the negative space between them mirrors the cross device that appears in differing configurations on each of the panels.

© ann alaia woods 2008

large-project details

A sampling of the

duet letter boxes designed for a commemorative book for Congregation Tifereth Israel. It can be seen in the lobby of the temple.