Words of Encouragement | Nicole Kelly Westman | April 4 to May 30, 2014


Words of Encouragement is a project born of an interest to exploit the rigid structure of art language and the unilateral authority of the formally written document. Personalized correspondence requesting letters of recommendation for the artist are dispatched to both qualified and likely individuals, and those potentially less, or entirely not, qualified as references. Participants for this project include former partners and their parents, childhood friends, high school teachers, distant relatives, sales clerks as well as artistic mentors, curators and writers. Encouraged to express artistic agency, the recipients of the request are free to determine their own degrees of authenticity and formality.  

The labor of constructing individualized reference requests stands as a metaphor to the binary of power of hierarchy within society; those that have the authority to author vs. individuals restricted to requesting favors. The minimal number of responses in relation to the excess of requests sent provides a visual depiction of the discrepancy of value between the two roles.