Collaborative team Jennifer Caine and Rachel Hellmann created Words in Air as the Edward E. Elson Artists-in-Residence at the Addison Gallery of American Art where it debuted as a site-specific installation in 2015. Inspired by the language of painting and poetry and the powerful ways in which each art form communicates distillations of experience, Caine and Hellmann have constructed a piece that combines the visual and verbal and embodies ideas of collaboration and creative exchange. Comprised of floor-to-ceiling painted, sewn, and hand-cut paper "pages," Words in Air resembles a human-scale artist's book - a porous container of light and color that invites movement in, around, and through it.
Transcribing a selection of verses by 20th century American female poets in an invented shorthand of simplifies marks, the artists blend a chorus of voices into a single visual response. Addressing ideas of light and color in both their choice of poems and in their process the artists marry form and content. Woven together, layered, and suspended in space, the "words" are united through cast shadows and reflected color to create a visual experience that is cohesive and solid, but at the same time shimmers and shifts in conversation with the ever-changing light and movement of visitors within the space.