My practice springs from my fascination with the text+image relationship and the freeing, yet limiting and inescapable, gaps in language. Humans must approach language as a closed system in order to achieve effective communication, but language has been and will always be an open system through which semiotics, context, and the subjective cause language to – however minorly or dramatically – shapeshift.
Since the advent of computer-mediated communication, today's globalized expansion + contraction of language (think of Google Translate's accessibility and fallibility, ChatGPT, or the daily misinterpretations of text messages) posits a new iteration of an old set of issues: e.g. miscommunication, authorship, ownership. Society’s inundation of text+image and text-as-image is fruitful ground for the restructuring of systems of power. Considering the latter, and our ongoing political climate, I often use words spoken to me by men as my materials, defining materiality as separate from physicality, and use the grid as a semiotic stand-in for the oppressive white, heteronormative patriarchy. My work challenges the power dynamics present in our system of – and perception of – language through the ways I handle and manipulate the text + image / text-as-image relationship.
Intersectional feminist values propel my work, as well as attempts at challenging the sweeping notion of an American psyche which strictly values that which is fiscally or numerically quantifiable – a problem that began in racist, capitalist, patriarchal “ideals” and continues across many channels in different forms. As an LGBTQ+ American woman, decoding power structures which underlie language use is dire – because few things are as powerful and political as language.
Dawn Kramlich is a queer artist and writer who lives and works in Chicago, IL. Her artwork has always been text-based, and her artistic practice involves research on semiotics, poetry (especially ekphrasis), Post-Structuralism, Intersectional Feminism, and the history of text-based American art. Kramlich earned her BA degree magna cum laude from Muhlenberg College, producing the first cross-major creative honors thesis (paintings + poems) in the history of Muhlenberg’s English and Art departments. She then moved to Philadelphia and received her MFA summa cum laude in Studio Art from Moore College of Art & Design. Kramlich regularly lectures at institutions, including PAFA (Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art), and has shown her work widely across the US and internationally in Ireland. Most notably, her work was included in a solo exhibition titled "Mark My Words" at the Barbara Crawford Gallery in 2023, Maus Contemporary's "Capitolism: The Normalization of Political Violence in the United States" exhibition in 2021, Rowan University Gallery's exhibition entitled "Dialogic" alongside John Giorno, Jaume Plensa, Jenny Holzer, and Glenn Ligon in 2013, and in the 4-person installation-based exhibition entitled "PaperScapes" at the Philadelphia Art Alliance in 2017. Kramlich was commissioned in 2022 by the PHL International Airport to create a painting which was scanned and printed at mural scale (7.5ft x 22ft) for the connector hallway just before Terminal F. Her artwork has been published in "I Like Your Work" podcast's catalog, "Muhlenberg Magazine," "CODAmagazine," "THE magazine," and the online version of "Creative Quarterly." Kramlich moved from Philly to Chicago in 2023 when she began her position as the Assistant Professor of Painting and Drawing at Elmhurst University.