Jan Owen at the 2015 NMWA Book Arts Fellows Meeting; Photo by Laura Hoffman, NMWA
Owen grew up in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York. She graduated in 1969 from DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, where she focused on art and English. After moving to Bangor, Maine, she worked as printmaker and graphic designer.
With the birth of twin daughters in 1978, she began teaching herself calligraphy. She has since studied calligraphy and book arts in the U.S. and Great Britain and has taught classes for many years. Musically talented as well, she played string bass with the Bangor Symphony Orchestra until 1994.
New York City, 1947
Jan Owen is known for her exquisite calligraphic rendition of poetry. Her unique books are best displayed hanging on a wall. They include poems that she selects, which often contain deep messages relevant to today’s world.
For her work The Sun, Owen included an excerpt from William Blake’s poem “Night,” which imagines a world where a lion can lie down with a...
Jan Owen, The Sun, 1995; Gouache, paper, 22 1/2 x 8 1/2 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Jan Owen; Photo by Lee Stalsworth
First Brush Stroke
Jan Owen says that First Brush Stroke (Books 1, 2, and 3) began “with three long panels of golden yellow paste paper. Just as I was considering what words to write, one of my favorite poets, John Tagliabue, sent me a poem that became the key: ‘The first brush stroke, now where will we go?…Order will be made like still music.’ All...