E.E. Ikeler

Region: Midwest

Perhaps ironically, the motivation to make text work comes from my skepticism about language, naming, and legibility. I wonder what it might feel like to experience the world without language. Using a specialty sign-painting enamel, I draw the text or gridded background until the surface of the canvas is covered. Some paintings are then sanded or carved, giving the surface a quality not normally associated with painterliness. The purpose of these techniques is to embed the text within the ground of the painting— to emphasize the visual over the legible.

I am interested in how the works, as objects, project into the social space of a room as signs. The language I use includes idioms, four-letter words, and short utterances that allude to longing, innuendo, rejection, and refusal. I think of them as protest signs, since I do the lettering and layout by hand. But rather than prioritizing a specific political message, in their relative illegibility they resist the didacticism of activist culture where we are often forced to organize ourselves according to simplistic categories of identity.