In CAM Exhibit, Cary Artist Links Powerful Words and Images

Michael Klauke, “About Time (Portrait of Stephen Hawking),” ink and pencil on paper, 2017, image courtesy of the artist.

Artist Michael Klauke has always been fascinated by the power of language.

The Cary resident studied art at UNC-Chapel Hill, and since 2001, has created images using thousands of tiny, handwritten words. The technique adds complexity and depth to familiar, straightforward images.

An exhibition of his work, “Michael Klauke: In So Many Words,” is on display at CAM Raleigh, through Sunday, Sept. 8. The public is invited to join Klauke at 3 p.m. Sunday, July 28, for a conversation about the current exhibition, his process and his life as a working artist. The event at CAM is free, but registration is suggested.

We invited Klauke to describe his art in his own words.

Why did you begin using the Textual Pointillism technique?

I began doing the textual pointillism drawings in 2001. The first one was a drawing that was featured in a local exhibition that asked artists to respond to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The drawing was called “Beyond Words” and consisted of the word GOD in large block letters. The G was the word “Judaism” written over and over, the O was the word “Christianity,” and the D was the word “Islam” written hundreds of times. After that I had the idea of using the same kind of tiny writing to make images instead of just larger words.

How do you choose your subjects?

The image usually comes first, followed by the text that creates it. I choose subjects and people that interest me, either for positive or negative reasons, and try to explore that positive or negative reaction by the words used to create the image.

Why is the written word still important?

In this age of e-mail and texting, the written word may seem to some like a relic of the past, but there will never be a substitute for putting pen to paper to express your thoughts (or to make art). Typing something may be a quicker and more convenient method of writing, but there is still an elegance and a thought process that only manifests itself in the written word. It’s kind of like cooking in your own kitchen instead of going out for fast food.

What do you do when you aren’t creating art?

When I’m not creating art, I work at the N.C. Museum of Art, spend time with my wife and son, and enjoy taking long walks.

To learn more about Klauke and his work, visit

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