Artist Date | Palette of Time, Pompeii

Stepping into Pompeii, I was transported. I was far from the world of today, but immersed into the world of the ancient Romans. Color stained remnants, streets of stone, proud, unbroken columns  – all with purple Vesuvius silently etched into the backdrop.

However, despite being transported into an ancient past, I found inspiring reminders of my world of today. While our technology has evolved us, the core of city culture remains essentially and amazingly the same as these Roman ruins describe.

For example, as our private tour guide explained as we viewed the sun-drenched walls, that Roman business owners hired special types of painters to professionally write the publicity announcements. This could be small scale signs or large advertisements. “The first graphic designers!” was my immediate, smiling thought. With careful red strokes in rustica script, Latin was written onto the walls to advertise local events, elections, and more. I admired the kerning of the letters, the angles of the serifs and the white space. The walls were truly a typographical time machine.

It was more than just the lettering, however, but this layering, the effect of time on color and texture. Sometimes, a graffiti drawing appears – in Greek (considered chic at the time). This motif informs the Roman Wall series. This idea of space + time has influenced the Maps of Time and Rome series, and continues to fascinate me and inspire new work.

I also entered a world of color. Pompeii is famous for its signature hue of “Pompeii Red,” which was abundantly splashed around. I reveled in the whole palette, from the muted stone hues to the deep purples, bleached blues and surprises of creamy orange. Golden tints from deep maize to pale “Naples” yellow were like sunshine on the walls. Time brought forth a palette so rich and luxe – it merits my own deeper study.

Leaving the site, I couldn’t help but feel moved by this ancient evidence of creativity – artwork decorating homes and shops, the care of painted street signs and even our own attraction to glimpse it, even at centuries’ distance. This is the timeless urge to know beauty.