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C4NM Window Gallery: Lexicographies by Cheryl E. Leonard

Thursday, September 24, 2020 — 7:30 PM
Tickets: Free! (online event)
Cheryl Leonard's calligraphy framed by information about the event

Join us as guest interviewer Jon Raskin discusses Lexicographies with Cheryl Leonard.

Artistic caligraphy called Lexicographies by Cheryl Leonard

Raskin and Leonard join us virtually via Zoom which will be broadcast out to C4NM’s Facebook page and website. To join, just a few minutes before start time simply log on to C4NM’s Facebook page, YouTube page, or view from this event page. (Make sure you refresh the page!)


Cheryl E. Leonard on Lexicographies

Since 2018 I have been developing asemic calligraphy based on patterns and shapes in wild landscapes for use in graphic music scores. Lexicographies displays works derived from the glacially-sculpted topography of Hardangerfjord in Norway, and coastal live oak trees in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. Included are “dictionary” pieces that demonstrate each calligraphic “language,” as well as work-in-progress graphic notation experiments.

My wilderness calligraphies are rooted in firsthand physical experiences. I study an environment by spending time within it – walking, scrambling, climbing, sitting, sleeping, watching, listening, touching, and documenting via photography and audio field recordings. Out of this boots-on-the-ground research I distill gestures, which I draw first in pencil, then transpose to brush and ink. “Characters” or “glyphs” emerge and I gather them into asemic collections. These are not traditional languages, as “characters” are not mapped to specific words, letters, or abstract or musical concepts, and there is no formal system for combining them into words, phrases, scales, melodies, or rhythms. Instead, because they are the result of many layers of translation, interpretation, and fabrication, these calligraphies and music generated by them, are necessarily abstract and improvisational. They are an invitation to consider aspects of the natural world that are beyond normal human scales of time, perception, and comprehension.

Natural-Object Musical Instruments


About Cheryl Leonard

Cheryl E. Leonard is a San Francisco-based composer, performer, and instrument builder whose works investigate sounds, structures, and objects from the natural world. Her projects cultivate stones, wood, water, ice, sand, shells, feathers, and bones as musical instruments, and feature one-of-a-kind sculptural instruments and field recordings from remote locales. Leonard is fascinated by subtle textures and intricacies of sounds, especially very quiet phenomena. She uses microphones to explore aural worlds within her sound sources, and develops compositions that highlight the unique voices she discovers. Her recent projects focus on climate change and extinction of species.

Leonard’s music has been performed worldwide and is available on multiple record labels. She has received grants from the National Science Foundation’s Antarctic Artists and Writers Program, New Music USA, American Composers Forum, American Music Center, ASCAP, Meet the Composer, the Eric Stokes Fund, and the NYSCA. Leonard’s commissions include works for SFMOMA, Kronos Quartet, Hope Mohr Dance’s Bridge Project, Illuminated Corridor, and the La Jolla Historical Society. She has been awarded residencies at Kunstnarhuset Messen, Djerassi, Oberpfälzer Künstlerhaus, the Arctic Circle, Villa Montalvo, and Engine 27. Leonard has contributed to several publications about music and sound art. Her instruments, installations, recordings and graphic scores have been exhibited in galleries and museums in the U.S. and abroad.

Calligraphic scores and commissions are available. Contact:

About Jon Raskin

Jon Raskin, a founding member of the Rova Saxophone Quartet is a improviser, composer, saxophonist and a player of a suitcase full of small electronics and recycled materials. He has been exploring alternative graphic methods for composing music for improvising musicians for almost 20 years and is keenly interested in of how visual art and music can interact.