Jan Owen

Jan Owen works on handmade or patterned paper and polyester fabric to create books, scrolls and hanging panels. Her multifaceted work combines her love of color and line, music and poetry, medieval manuscripts and Asian calligraphy. She grew up in New York, and received a BA before studying calligraphy and book arts. She played string bass with a symphony for many years, and her visual work echoes the rhythm and layering found in music. Her work is in galleries throughout the country and she has received several Percent for Art Commissions in Maine. Her work has been acquired by the Library of Congress, the National Museum of Women in the Arts and many universities and private collectors.

Jan Owen's text for Requiem includes Tolstoy, Remarque, Whitman, Jeffers, Wilfred Owen and about 1,000 names of military and civilian casualties from 2002 to2009. It is Cave Paper Walnut Red and Galaxy with gouache, sumi and walnut ink, and pen.


 piece is war transformed by art - words that combine the tradition of the requiem mass with the poetry of Wilfred Owen. It is harsh music combined with exquisite beauty – the best and the worst that we can be.

Words from the requiem mass began this book and then it sat awhile - waiting. It waited until I met poet, Women in Blackreading names of military and civilian dead. With each one, I wanted to remember the sorrow of family and of my community for a young man who died as a fighter pilot.


Writing the book was a challenge; the rough pages and folds excluded guidelines and each sheet had different texture and absorbency. It was like working with something, not on it. The brown pages feel earthy; the black are rough but crisp. It has felt like a collaboration of poetry, names, cautioning words we forget, earth and sky, war and beauty - paper, pen and ink.