Paintings, Drawings, and Photographs artist
Home Page Shorthand gone Rogueback to Gallery

Now is the Time
1920s typewriter/60s telephone/80s transcriber)
"Now is the time for all good people to come to the aid of democracy."

Rebel to Rogue
Archival Print (11"x17"/27.9x43.1)
(diary/party/John Lennon's Rolls, London)

"From my diary at 16 to my work at 17 to my travels at 18, my shorthand and I were compliant. Oh but in my 20s I went rogue."

Prior to computers, for someone to admit typing proficiency was an invitation to do other people's work. In 20th century male-dominated workplaces, men did not type, they dictated. Women learned shorthand (Sir Isaac Pitman's 1837 system of speedy strokes, symbols and syllabic shortcuts) to record men's spoken words in order to present them later in typed form for men's review.

In other words, shorthand was a utilitarian, gender-specific language when the artist acquired and employed it as a teenaged legal secretary. After moving to Toronto for art school, she never used it again. But in 2018, she revisited it to explore its visual, social and political potential.

Simplifying its complexities to line pressure and position, hand drawn on a selection of her travel photos and paintings, the images become posters to ponder, conveying certain life mantras for oblique reflection. A barely discernible stenographic notation in some images can be read as steganography (a message hidden in plain sight).

Whether the strokes are read as incomprehensible, feminist graffiti, or as a secret note to self, is up to the viewer but transcriptions are quoted in italics next to the work.

Archival print (4"x6")
(artist Carnaby St. Biba gear 60s London)

"Stenographer in Revolt"

Archival print (11"x17"/27.9x43.1)
(Joan Baez 1969 Mariposa Folk Festival Toronto)

"Power to the People"
(signed lower right in shorthand)

Archival Print (11"x17"/27.9x43.1)
(photo collage)

"power to the peep here"


Archival Print (11"x17"/27.9x43.1)
(Believe 16"x20" acrylic/canvas)

"believe me"
"believe me"
"believe me"

"I believe you"
"I believe you too"
"we believe you"

(#Metoo, #Timesup)

Archival print (11"x17"/27.9x43.1)
(street photo judge car Varanasi, India)

"This judge lies.
This judge likes beer.
This judge lies.
This judge"

(Brett Kavanagh "justice" hearings, US Senate, 2018)

Archival print (11"x17"/27.9x43.1)
(artist's photos in Toronto and Iceland)

"Like a bird on a wire
like a drunk in a
midnight choir
I have tried
in my way to be free."

(Leonard Cohen, 1968)

Archival print (11"x17"/27.9x43.1)
(artist's photos in New Zealand and Australia)

"Sitting quietly
doing nothing
spring comes
and the grass grows
by itself."

(Matsuo Basho c.1668)

Archival print (11"x17"/27.9x43.1)
("Africa" 30"x60" acrylic/canvas)

"temperature rising
temperature rising
temperature rising
temperature rising
temperature rising
temperature rising
temperature rising
temperature rising
temperature rising"

(#climate change)

Archival print (11"x17"/27.9x43.1)
(spring tulips, periwinkle and sweet woodruff)

"Hartman '73"
"The world is yet a beauteous thing when one can feel a sunlit spring"

Archival print (11"x17"/27.9x43.1)
(artist's photo of laburnum "Golden Chain" tree)

"just breathe"
(signed lower right in shorthand)

(12"x12" acrylic/canvas next to copied shorthand by visitors)

"listen | hear"

all works and images © ruth hartman
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Some images are available in archival limited edition pigment prints. Contact the artist directly for details.