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It is easy to get lost in metaphors

(my intuition is a song)


Maybe Words Want Being, a phonic score, 2018

This body of work – especially created for the Weinberg Newton Gallery show The Tip of my Tongue – was inspired by the work and research of Caleb Gattegno. He was one of the most influential and one of the most prolific mathematics educators of the twentieth century and best known for his innovative approaches to teaching and learning mathematics (Visible & Tangible Math), foreign languages (The Silent Way) and reading (Words in Color). He created self-instructional devices and games, such as two inventions of his own, color-coded letters to teach different pronunciations and a system that uses color and spacing to denote musical values. Each was aimed at releasing one’s own capacity to figure things out for themselves and to make connections. ‘I Let Them Learn’.


Exploring the relationship between listening, language and empathy Leenaars developed a sonic score titled Maybe Words Want Being comprising 4 stanzas from a poem she wrote about language titled: It is easy to get lost in metaphors (my intuition is a song), for this occasion. The score plays with the colors assigned by Gattegno to each sound combination of letters, present in the poem. Hence the poem and meaning can be read and performed in multiple ways by the viewer. The set of three postcards that are part of a piece form a key to the score. The act of interpreting the score and sounding out the words, takes us out of our own heads, playing around with the different sounds and the order of language gives us access to multiple interpretations and relationships. For this show and this body of work Leenaars looked at literacy as a way to expand the ability to express oneself, to share stories, and to connect with others. Listening and finding meaning is an opportunity to connect by means of creating relationships.

It is easy to get lost in metaphors (my intuition is a song), key, color chart, poem, 2018

About The Tip of my Tongue at the Weinberg Newton Gallery, curated by Kasia Houlihan:

The Tip of My Tongue was organized in partnership with the Chicago Literacy Alliance and aimed to draw out the complexities of language as a tool not only for communication but also for connection, discovery, and growth. This group exhibition took an expansive approach to the theme of literacy as it explores the many issues caught up in the web of words we each navigate, from notions of identity and belonging, to autonomy and self-expression. Through sound, color, book arts, and text, this group of works by six Chicago-based artists provides access points to a multiplicity of voices, ideas, viewpoints, and conversations.

Judith Brotman, Kirsten Leenaars, Andy Moore, Huong Ngo, North Branch Projects, and Udita Upadhyaya.


Maybe Words Want Being, a phonic score, 2018. Inkjet on vinyl, dimensions 136”x85”, installation view Weinberg Newton Gallery, Chicago

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