In the archives of writer and activist Emma Goldman (1869–1940), Andrea Bowers discovered the passionate love letters Goldman wrote to a physician and fellow radical, Ben Reitman (1879–1942). In this drawing, Bowers copied two lines from one of the letters: “Dearest heart of mine / You are my life / and all that it implies / sorrows, struggle / pain and despair.” Bowers produced the drawing by tracing the handwriting from a projection of a copy of the letter at 1:1 scale. The result is a detailed rendering, with the paper outline visible and every mark recorded. Bowers, whose work focuses on social justice, here explores the private side of a towering public figure.
Andrea Bowers (b. 1965), Excerpts from Emma Goldman's Love Letters "Sorrows, struggle, pain and despair.” Graphite, 12 1/4 x 9 1/8 inches (31.1 x 23.1 cm). Purchased on the Manley Family Fund, 2016.14. Image courtesy of the Artist and Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York. © Andrea Bowers. Photography by Rebecca Fanuele.