Contemporary Feminist Typewriter Art by Leslie Nichols
This article is part of a series titled 'The Surprisingly Revolutionary Medium of Typewriter Art'. Make sure to check out our other articles in this series linked below!
In this series, we have already explored how F.F. Stacey’s typewriter artwork demonstrates how the typewriter provided social mobility for women, but more contemporary artist, Leslie Nichols, has utilised the machine to uplift and empower women and their work with her typewriter art.
Leslie Nichols, Neli (Anzaldúa 1987). Portrait of artist Neli Ouzounouva created with text from "La Conciencia de la Mestiza: Towards a New Consciousness" by Gloria Anzaldúa in 1987
Contemporary typewriter artist Leslie Nichols explores various facets of women’s rights and identity as well as her own sense of womanhood and its place in her own community. Trained as a traditional painter, Nichols now uses a manual typewriter or, as she calls it, the ‘early tool of secretaries’, to form landscapes and portraits out of a variety of appropriated and original text.
Leslie Nichols herself
Leslie Nichols, Megan (Oppenheim 1911). Portrait of poet Megan Levad using “Bread and Roses” by James Oppenheim in 1911
Nichols typically foregrounds an image of a contemporary woman that has made an impression on her, often scholars, artists or students. She then interlocks the image with words from ‘a classic social text that has relevance to the woman's life to create her image’.
In her ongoing Textual Portraits series, Nichols aims to convey ‘American women’s lives… and a sense of social heritage’. By using a contemporary image paired with historic words, Nichols' tries to present the historical context of women and their lives in America. Nichols’ In Her Words series seeks to monumentalise women whose important community work often goes overlooked. These portraits use mixed mediums and inspirational texts to memorialise typically unseen women.
‘I create portraits with text to emphasize the weight of words and to allude to the idea that our lives are the creations of our minds and social construction’
Leslie Nichols, Study for Onward and Upward
Nichols artwork shows how typewriters in art can serve to inspire and empower women allowing them to explore their womanhood, identity and role in their community. This reflects how feminism as an ideology and movement has developed over time, increasingly focusing on women as autonomous indiviudals. Nichols’ typewriter art has also allowed for various women’s image and their words to be celebrated and immortalised, lifting up many women who may have otherwise gone overlooked.
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If you want to read more about Leslie Nichols or typewriter art in general:
If you would like the chance to give typewriter art a go yourself, we have typewriters available to use in our store. Don't hesitate to contact us on social media (@typesetspace) or through email (email@example.com) to try one. Alternatively, pop in-store any time we're open and give it a go!