UT Dallas Magazine

Art Exhibit Showcases Letter Writing

Dallie Clark PhD’12 with husband Lawrence Bassuk at her exhibit, “The Letter as Art in the Digital Age”


The “lost art” of letter writing in the digital age is a source of inspiration, according to Dallie Clark PhD’12.

The Collin College humanities professor chose to focus on the topic for her dissertation research at UT Dallas and has continued to collect artifacts of the art form over the years.

In early 2017, Dallie’s efforts blossomed into a multimedia art exhibit “The Letter as Art in the Digital Age” at Collin College’s THE ARTS Gallery in Plano. Dallie said the exhibit showcased the artform of handwritten communication and how it has influenced our cultural and societal development.

“It all started with a shoebox of letters that my mother gave me many, many years ago,” she said. “So that planted a seed in my heart regarding the artistry of old letters.”

Dallie began to look around and “collect related items,” she said, and found the art form was everywhere — in literature, movies, love stories, war stories, music and many other places.

“They reflect not only beauty, but meaning as well.”

“And there were all these other art forms inspired by the letter — poetry, novels, home decor, music — you wouldn’t believe how many pieces of vintage sheet music I have found.”

Dallie said she believes her research speaks to a longing for “these beautiful handwritten items in our lives” as a tangible form of lasting communication. “My hope is that the exhibition represents even a sliver of the letter’s significance from an artistic and cultural perspective.”

Additionally, the act of writing a letter has a level of aesthetic quality that transcends other forms of communication, she noted. “The penmanship is simply breathtaking,” Dallie said, “and I’m astonished by the wording, and the measured time individuals took to write these letters. They reflect not only beauty, but meaning as well.”

Dallie, who holds a doctorate in humanities, became a full-time professor at Collin College in 2005. She serves as an advisory board member for the School of Arts and Humanities.