Letter from the curator header

Dyslexic Dictionary: Curator's Statement

October 20, 2022 | By Tamsin Smith

October 22nd sees the opening of the Dyslexic Dictionary Exhibition at Arion Press in San Francisco. Our goal in establishing a gallery program at this unique institution is to cultivate, celebrate, and showcase the enduring dialogue between writers and artists that has been fundamental to each of the conceptually unique handmade books we've created over the years. As the first curator-in-residence, I've sought to use our gallery space as a hub for creatively curious people to come together around the ideas and images that challenge us to pay greater attention to the world around us and how we move through it. As with any great story, the text on the page is only the beginning. Looking beyond the text to new horizons of creative innovation is the central driver behind this, our final show of 2022.

Dyslexic Dictionary is a provocation — an invitation to explore and redefine. Nine dyslexic artists have been commissioned to convey how they have learned to use their dyslexic powers to respond to and reimagine the common tools of language in new and fascinating ways. Artist and designer Martin Grasser turns the alphabet into a lyrical abstraction composed of beautiful color-correspondent dots. Dutch designer Christian Boer broke all the rules of typography to invent a font — Dyslexie — that makes it much easier for some dyslexics to follow the ABCs. California Governor Gavin Newsom wrote an empowering children’s book about growing up with dyslexia and learning to use it creatively as a decoding device.

British author Sally Gardner turns words back on themselves with a wry and witty poem that captures her experience wrestling with language. Artist Adam Eli Feibelman channels the intricate workings of his language processing into cut-paper artistry that tells multi-layered visual stories on an epic scale. Nigerian artist Adeniyi Akingbade forms poignant sculptures from toothpicks and skewers to portray his love of books and vision of the dyslexic brain.

Artist and womenswear designer Kelsey Ann Kasom dynamically redefines how space is valued sculpturally and turns fractal thinking into works of pioneering fashion. Rebecca Kamen’s work as a sculptor and lecturer sits at the intersection of art and science, where the kinetic threads of her own curious brain become the jumping-off point for creativity. Woven through the entire exhibition, of course, is the artistry and insight of Gil Gershoni, whose creative vision as the show’s executive producer is evident in every detail. His iconic art piece forms the literal spine of the exhibit; it is an invitation to think beyond the norm and to never stop exploring deeper layers and fresh possibilities.

Schoolchildren from around the world join the artists in the show by sharing their dictionary words for what dyslexia means to them, growing our compendium of insight and excitement about the gift of dyslexia. Please visit dyslexicdictionary.com to learn more about each of these artists and Dyslexic Design Thinking, an initiative founded by Gil Gershoni, which is on a mission to shift how society understands and values the innovations authored by the dyslexic mind. The show runs from Oct. 22 - December 22, 2022.