Kenyon College

Two Towers


Kay Rosen (b. 1949)

Two Towers. 1991.

Enamel sign paint on canvas.

16 x 10 inches.

The Progressive Corporate Art Collection.


Pumped up to almost monumental and often confrontational scales, Rosen’s texts challenge the viewer to think about the literal structure and physical form of language. She also challenges the viewer to consider the chromatic nature of text as the crimson lettering of this piece bears a striking resemblance to the iconic emblem of the American Red Cross. But in its visual impact and architecturally interactive presence, her work also explores the ways in which conceptual language becomes present, how it connects to and stands in relation to the physical world. In Two Towers, Rosen’s text points exactly to the architectural landmarks, now fixedly linked, like the words themselves, to the events and ideologies of September 11, 2001. Created in 1991, Rosen’s piece pre-dates either terrorist attacks on the famous site, but now, over 20 years later, has helplessly accrued the context of our nation’s intervening history. 


Throughout her career, Kay Rosen’s inventive and sophisticated language-based work has explored the often subtle and ineffable qualities that shape the words upon which our language, and culture, essentially depends.



Grant Johnson ’11

Former Exhibitions and Programs Coordinator