Monica Dengo
Arezzo, Italy

B13 — Unique and Imperfect
Four-Day Class, Monday, July 27 – Friday, July 31
All Levels
Book Arts, Design, Lettering


In intercultural communication, non-verbal forms, such as gestures and expressions, assume great importance. Similarly, forms of handwriting become a vehicle for visual communication between cultures. Handwriting, intended not as a container of content, but rather as a higher expression of values and emotions through form, is fundamental in becoming acquainted with another culture. In the digital age, when people are losing their ability to write by hand, western culture is acknowledging the importance of mark making and the handwriting/body movement/expression relations. This also implies a relation between handwriting and music, handwriting and dance.

This class, predominantly practical, will compare and explore the gestures and movements of mark making in different cultures. Students will develop different ways of holding a pen or a brush and new relations between gestural marks and the use of space. They will also develop a cursive hand implementing the newly developed gestures. The course will be devoted to a spontaneous approach to writing, closer to handwriting than to the controlled movements of traditional calligraphy. At the end of the course students will make their own sewn book.

Supply List

  • 10 sheets Arches text wove 25″ x 40″ (or 20 sheets if it measures 20″ x 25″)
  • Paper for book cover: a heavier, 140 lb paper, suitable for soft cover bindings (20″ x 25″ or larger)
  • Sumi ink, one bottle, 250 ml (8 oz)
  • Watercolors in tubes
  • Gouache (a couple of colors)
  • Liquid gum arabic
  • We’ll make new writing instruments in class. Bring all kinds of brushes, including old ones, both flat and round.
  • Water and ink containers
  • A pair of plastic gloves
  • Paper towels
  • Bookbinding thread
  • Needles
  • Bone folder

Supply fee: $5 for miscellaneous paper

Born in Italy in 1966, Monica Dengo lived and worked in San Francisco, California from 1993 to 2003 and currently lives in Arezzo, Italy. Monica began the study of graphic design in Venice and England. In London she studied calligraphy and bookbinding at the Roehampton Institute (1991 – 1992) with Gaynor Goffe and Ewan Clayton. In 1993 she moved to San Francisco and spent three years in the independent study of manuscript production techniques, design, and calligraphy with the assistance of Thomas Ingmire. She also studied figure drawing with Eleanor Dickinson. The Correr Museum and Marciana libraries in Venice, Italy were also a part in her independent studies. From 2000 to 2003 Monica taught calligraphy and experimental typography at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco where she developed new approaches to lettering, calligraphy, and handwriting. Currently she collaborates as a curator and teacher with the Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia, organizing international week long workshops and exhibitions.

Monica has taught in Japan, the United States, Canada, Germany, France, Belgium, Switzerland, and Italy. She has exhibited in the United States, China, France, Italy, and the United Arab Emirates. She has published the children’s workbook Le Penne in Pugno, with Giannino Stoppani Edizioni, in Italy. The same book was published in France, and in Canada and the U.S. by Owl Kids with the title Pick Up Your Pen, which also won the 2012 Parents’ Choice Award. She is the co-founder of the Centro Internazionale Arti Calligrafiche, a cultural non-profit organization based in Arezzo, Italy, which also offers classes in Rome and Venice.

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