Overlapping Impressions presents typographic prints made with the Rob Roy Kelly American Wood Type Collection, which is housed in the Design Division of the Department of Art and Art History at The University of Texas at Austin. Traditional in their structure, the prints are set apart by how their content is layered. Weighted statements become convoluted and enigmatic as opposing communication is overlaid—figuratively and physically—breaking the expected plane on which words fall. Through this interaction, the phrases lose their fortitude, both in letterform and meaning, becoming ambiguous in their intent and tenor. In this space, the prints themselves become a confused dialogue, questioning the austere and facilitating discourse between two extremes. The viewer is allowed to step into the conversation, their subjectivity extending the gray areas while leaving the prints in an unclear realm and diminishing their gravity.
The Rob Roy Kelly Wood Type Collection is an extensive bank of wood type manufactured and used for printing in America during the nineteenth century. It is comprised of over 160 faces of various sizes and styles, including examples of the most popular printing types in use between 1828 and 1900, and represents a period of history marked by a rapid transition to new printing technologies. This change precipitated a radical shift away from traditional hand production—which involved creating type with soft calligraphic forms—to a completely industrialized manufacturing process—which produced type constructed with hard angular forms that reflect mechanical origins. Today, the Design Division of the Department of Art and Art History houses this important archive along with a fully functioning printing press and a diverse collection of metal types in its Type Lab. The Type Lab is a core component of the broad range of enabling technologies offered by the Design Division, which views technology both as an important tool in, and a pervasive component of, the fabric of contemporary culture.
Lauren Dickens is a graphic designer, illustrator, and typographer living and working in Austin. She earned her BFA in Design from The University of Texas in 2011. During her time at UT, she become actively involved in the Rob Roy Kelly American Wood Type Collection, working with visiting master printer Rick Griffith on Autumn Pentad, a collaboration among him, David Shields, Ayham Ghraowi, and herself in 2009. The project was later sold to the Denver Art Museum’s permanent collection. In 2010, alongside Ahyam Ghraowi and Javier Viramontes, she launched the show Fully Justified Mistakes in the FAB gallery. Initiated by David Shields, she also worked closely with Mala Kumar to redesign the classification labels within the collection. Since 2011, Lauren has worked at local branding studio Helms Workshop and continues to pursue personal projects.