Featured Profile

Mark Van Stone
Professor of Art History
Southwestern College

Mark Van Stone has been drawing letters for thirty years. His in-depth studies of written forms began seriously in university, where he recreated Babylonian cuneiform tablets and Celtic manuscripts, leading to a six-month fellowship in 1972 to libraries in Ireland and England, where his education really began. Writing led to carving, and ten years later he studied ivory netsuke carving in Japan for half a year. In between, he built astronomy experiments, worked as a disk jockey, studied massage, drummed and sang in a string of rock bands, and crisscrossed America and Canada teaching calligraphy workshops. He is a bridge between the scholarly world and the craft, teaching paleographers how their manuscripts were made, and teaching calligraphers the historical context of our art.

He is a gifted teacher. For this reason he has taught at more calligraphy conventions than any other individual. In 1988, he won a Guggenheim Fellowship for work on a History of Calligraphy, for which he traveled around the world, photographing written forms in twenty countries. He has since taught classes in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Italy, Ireland, England, Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands, and Greece and continues to lead intensive two-week calligraphy seminars in Europe every summer. He has mounted expeditions to the jungles of Central America, where he photographed Maya inscriptions for a book on the history of Calligraphy. His work has been exhibited from Tokyo to Anchorage to Iceland to Moscow, and he just returned from presenting a scholarly paper at the new Alexandria Library in Egypt.

His work has been published in Upper and lower case, Modern Scribes & Lettering Artists II, The Calligrapher's Project Book, Calligraphy Review, and Fine Homebuilding, and in 2001 he co-authored Reading the Maya Glyphs with Michael Coe; his role there consisted mainly in calligraphing over 2000 hieroglyphic illustrations.  He is presently Professor of Art History at Southwestern College in Chula Vista, California, whose library carries a 168-foot-long sandblasted facade of repeated Maya Hieroglyphs which he designed.  Calling himself "an incurable dilettante," he has executed written forms with stone-age tools and computers, with pens, reeds, clay, chisels, sandblasting, spray paint, and sparklers.


Recent Contributions by Mark Van Stone