Dyslexia spells creative art
Posted March 27, 2009
Lauryl Bakke
Staff Writer

Whether you love books or hate them, Claremont Graduate University has just the thing to capture your attention.

Many turned out to the Peggy Phelps Gallery at CGU to experience the mixed media art exhibit entitled “The Unwritten Works of C.M. Venice McCurdy,” which incorporates how the artist has had a love/hate relationship with books throughout her life.

McCurdy, who is dyslexic, has had a fear of books due to the ridicule she received growing up struggling with a disability that many did not understand.

To overcome this she turned to art, where she excelled, and was able to allow people to view the world as she sees it and turn something that had been a negative in her life into a major positive.

Instead of giving into the fear of books, she uses them to express her creativity.

“I use books to get the message across that anyone can succeed, it just takes a little time.” McCurdy said.

One of the interesting parts of the exhibit is the wall that has 26 different books carved into the letters of the alphabet, along with seven extra letters/shapes.

The seven extra letters may look like shapes to those viewing them, but they are in fact blended letters and have specific meaning to the artist.

“Seven was a significant number; they were how I sometimes viewed certain letters,” McCurdy said.

On the back wall of the exhibit were 144 book covers covered in spray-paint chalk and crayon. McCurdy uses the pages of the books to think of what is going to be painted on the cover, and uses a lot of color and shapes to express that.

“It’s kind of cool because it goes along with the cliché ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’,” Ale Velascoof of La Habra said. “Having the art on the book covers allows you to see past the title and look at the art of what’s inside.”

Another element of the exhibit was a sort of “maze” of book covers hung from the ceiling.

Each book cover had to do with some form of education and attracted visitor’s curiosity to discover the connection or significance of the piece.

“I’m trying to find out a pattern or something with the books, I keep coming back to this piece because it intrigues me so much,” Justin Rocca of Upland said. “I never thought a book cover could hold so much interest and awe.”

Last but not least was the most unique element of the exhibit that allowed visitors to experience something McCurdy experienced her whole life.

Two speakers played a track repeating every 13 letter word in the dictionary, right channel to left channel, sped up to 250 words per minute, holding a very significant meaning to the artist.

Growing up McCurdy used to listen to books on tape but always sped it up to 250 words per minute never thinking it was unique.

“One time the earphone jack came out and someone asked ‘what are you listening to’ and that’s when I realized there was something special to it,” McCurdy said.

All the pieces in the “Unwritten Works” exhibit influenced McCurdy’s life.

McCurdy’s struggle with books influenced an entirely new creative medium which brings to light the hardships of people who have dyslexia.

This exhibit gives a whole new outlook to the simple book and instills the idea to visitors that what is inside a book can mean so much more than what is portrayed on the outside.

“The Unwritten Works of C.M. Venice McCurdy” mixed media sculpture exhibition closes Friday.

Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

For more information contact the Peggy Phelps Gallery at 909-621-8071.

Lauryl Bakke can be reached at lauryl.bakke@laverne.edu.

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