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My Fellow Citizens

President Barack Obama's inaugural address with pen-drawn calligrams.
$100 (Paper covers)

The inaugural address given by President Barack Obama on 20 January 2009. A verbatim transcript, Introduction and drawings by David Esslemont.

Esslemont discovers references to Dorothy Fields’ song ‘Pick Yourself Up’ and the English economist John Maynard Keynes, and the source of the words that ‘the father of our nation ordered . . . be read to the people:
“Let it be told to the future world, that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive, that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet . . . it.” Written by the English radical philosopher Thomas Paine in 1776 as General Washington was preparing to cross the Delaware River to continue his war against the British. Washington ordered Paine’s pamphlet be read to the troops.

Inspired by the frequency and choice of words in President Obama’s speech, Esslemont created a series of pen-drawn compositions or calligrams.
The drawing used for the cover is based on the whole speech, while each illustration is based on the text on the facing page. For example: if we analyze the word frequency of the whole speech ignoring common verbs, pronouns, prepositions and indefinite articles etc, we find the following words occur most often: nation (11), new (11), America (10). These are represented in the calligram by large red words. Words occurring four or eight times, e.g. people, spirit, today and God, are drawn in smaller blue letters, and black ink is used for all 171 words that occurred two or three times, e.g. peace, power, hope and prosperous. Words occurring only once were not used.
For the illustrations, all the words used in the text on the facing pages are represented: red is used for a frequency ≥ 4, blue for ≥ 2 and black for words appearing once.

Edition details
Digitally printed with archival pigment inks on
180 gm BFK Rives Velin Cuve.
Fourteen illustrations
Hand-sewn in Velin Cuve covers
32 pp, 8.5 x 5.5 inches (220 mm x 143 mm)

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