2008, 5" x 8", 62 pgs, Full Color.
ISBN 1-438279-68-X | EAN-13 978-1-438279-68-8
K.S. Ernst's Drop Caps is an alphabet book, a Pandora's box of verbo-visual treasures, a crate of sculptures, a litany of of the textual imagination, and a pure delight for the eye. Combining the eye of a painter, the ear of a poet, and the hand of a typographer, Ernst examines the power of text through color, cancellation, eradication, shape, torquing, humor, pathos, and a dry sense of humor and seriousness that surprise on every page. Beginning as an alphabet book that swerves from frame to frame with visual legerdemain and grace, the book ends with a flickering set of even greater experimentations, each of which on every page are haunted by individual capital letters of the alphabet, often askew, the dropped capitals that give the book its name.
It's always a pleasure to write about K.S. Ernst, allowing me an opportunity to try to spread the good news of new publications and to further contextualize her in the frames of her own opus and of the arts of our time. Writing about publications in editions is particularly important in her case, since most of her oeuvre is one-of-a-kind works of art. Still, I've had the opportunity to write about her in her Web Survey and in an extended essay on her and her closest collaborators, Marilyn R. Rosenberg and David Cole in Correspondence Art Solos and Choruses. Drop Caps, gives the reader a better sense of her abilities to work in multiple dimensions than those editions which have come before. Dimensions in this case include reproductions of bas relief sculpture that come as close as an affordable book can manage to demonstrating her work with three dimensional pages. The text itself may be the fullest published to date. Here, phantom narratives nest conundrums in their coyly side-stepping and evasive sentences, in turn nested inside questions with multiple answers - and answers to multiple questions. These stories in turn find themselves graphically placed inside layered explorations of the shapes and potential functions of letters in a delightful play of dancing wit and in-depth exploration of signs we take for granted. How much can the intrusion of the upper serif and middle bar of the letter G fill in the spectral tones and messages of ungrateful ghosts whispering above obscured candles? It may be surprising how much particularly for those too familiar with now predictable genres ranging from popular fiction to the latest in deconstructionist theory to the rigidity of the Concrete Poetry of half a century ago. In previous comments, I've called Ernst the Mozart of current visual poetry. If my comments here suggest a forbiddingly difficult work, that's just a reflection of my problems in summing up the book in a brief space. As in the early through middle Mozart, Ernst has an uncanny ability to make the most complex ideas clear, free of pretension or obfuscation, and not only easy but fun to follow.
For inventive elegance, few visual poets in any language now can equal K. S. Ernst.
The visio-textual art of K.S. Ernst lifts poetry to its rightful three-dimensional habitat where it comes alive: viewable, palpable, performative. This essential, generative synthesis of mind and heart creates experience, immediately memorable. Raw truth spawns multiple probable realities. Works by K.S. Ernst should be seen widely, studied intently, and savored by discerning viewers for whom art equals infinity. The text of Drop Caps, generous, insightful, and framed by its source letters, encompasses mind in matter. Anchored by coherence of the alphabet, this book characterizes what is best in contemporary visio-textual art. Drop Caps is a must-have for every library seeking to encompass what is most dynamic in 21st Century art.
—Sheila E. Murphy
Just when I thought everything anybody could do with the alphabet had now been done, K.S. Ernst finds ten million new ways to use it (while doing a lot of other good stuff, too - some of it Very Funny)!
Much more than just an ABC, this alphabet-structured book explores the possible complete randomness (therefore a kind of order) of our ways of arranging language, and thus of consciousness itself. Each letter is approached from numerous perspectives and is shown to be at the center of a swarm of text, structure, form, color, dimensionality, emotion, idea, and many other manifestations of what is. An impressive and beautiful work.
—John M. Bennett, Luna Bisonte Prods