Sally Eckhoff

An Introduction by Mary Kathryn Jablonski

I am thrilled to introduce you to the inimitable artist/writer/filmmaker Sally Eckhoff, who I have come to know as a true original. Once you’ve seen her masterful animated video, CONFERENCE OF THE BIRDS, and read some of the First Person Notes I’ve shared with you about her work, you’ll know just what I mean.

A Music Appreciation Video from Sally Eckhoff:


First Person Notes from Sally Eckhoff

I love word art! Ree Morton of Philly, what an artist. She was killed in a car crash in 1977, when she was 40. Marcia Tucker, the curator, said her work was “confrontational innocence.” She inspired me from the first moment I saw her work. “The Plant That Heals May Also Poison” was hanging somewhere in Philadelphia; I don’t even remember where, but it stuck in my mind to this day. 

The lettering I do for the animations found on the Sally Eckhoff vimeo page is based on typefaces—especially my favorite, Poster Bodoni. I set type professionally in New York for eleven years, maybe longer. I started as the typositor operator at the “Village Voice.” I set the headlines. It was really fun.

I try not to get caught up in the temptation to use color. I think Paul Klee was right when he said that a drawing is a line taking a walk.

The people we love who died: We have to make art for them, leave their fingerprints everywhere. 

“MarySally” is very special. I made this drawing after my sister died. Everyone said we looked alike. She died of alcohol and prescription drug addiction in 2008. She was 51. So, I put us together.

It’s good to have your hands in dirt. Be dirty.

The country life is a bit of a tease—or a ruse. I live in the woods and it’s a pain. House roof falling apart. Can’t get the driveway plowed. And all I want to do is paint a painting, not caulk windows and scrape, scrape, scrape fences. And seed and mow the lawn, and worry about how to get the pellet stove fixed, etc. A raccoon killed my chickens, since I didn’t have a dog.

I did this drawing, “What I Want,” in progressive stages after a trip to the Philly Museum. I saw so many great things that night, I didn’t know which way to run. So, I decided what were the most important things to put into a painting. The lettering is from one of Dan Solo’s Circus Type catalogs. I bought them at Soave Faire [a shop in Saratoga Springs, NY] when I was in grad school and was living in a shitty apartment in Bolton Landing. Can’t live without them. 

Gotta practice my guitar now. I’m learning gypsy jazz and it’s super complicated. 

I was not having a great time when I drew this one! (“YouSort”). I had a tortured couple of months after graduation from UArts [Philadelphia]. In the winter of 2010. That was the year I went broke and ran out of propane on the coldest night of the year. Lucky for me I had an old chunk stove in my kitchen, so I burned wood all night to keep my pipes from freezing. “That which was hard to endure is sweet to remember.” -Attributed to Mark Twain.

I make calendars all the time, just for the joy of drawing words. These are calendar pages I use to plan my activities. Here’s what it looks like around my desk, where I am an Animation Professor at Sweet Briar, Virginia. (“Above my desk”).