Jan Owen, “Marginalia”

Box and book: binders board covered with black paste paper, coptic binding, gold hand lettered titles

Title page, gold acrylic brush mark over black sumi ink line on black paper, lettering with gold acrylic

Text page, hand lettered with gold and silver acrylic; painted, woven Tyvek

Gold acrylic brush mark over black sumi ink line on black paper with mica flecks

Text page hand lettered in gold acrylic with painted woven Tyvek


Jan Owen (Belfast, Maine)

Hand lettered with acrylic on handmade paper, painted Hollytex, painted woven Tyvek, coptic binding.
Unique work
28 pages
14 x 22 x 1 inch open
14 x 11 x 2 inches closed

On a clear night, the Maine sky is filled with stars. Looking up makes me feel small and also part of something immense and beautiful. Marginalia began as I folded Cave Paper’s black Galaxy paper; the book had to be about space.

The pages alternate between brushstroke marks like planet rings or comet tails and those with hand lettered blocks of text. The text pages come from my memory of a 14th century French manuscript in which every page had a different arrangement of text blocks and lettering styles. Also included are several passages of binary code which makes possible new information and images.

How can we grasp this universe, this life, imagine it? As I get older, I know more about who I’ve become and wonder more about why I am here. Am I just marginalia in the universe? Or do I treat the universe, this beautiful planet, as marginalia to my one, precious life? Marginalia contains words of seeking, praise and astonishment by poets, scientists and astronauts.