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Event Description

Text as Visual Language
Artwork Image: Courtesy by Tate Foley

Open Call for Artists and Non-Artists of All Ages

Throughout history, text has relied directly and heavily on visual images for its meaning with examples such as hieroglyphics and calligraphy. The first form of writing, Cuneiform, is characterized by a system of pictorial images. The letters of the alphabet we use today are no exception. They were first drawn and designed as twenty-six distinct visual symbols and each symbol represents an assigned sound. It is these visual symbols we arrange into words and enunciate as sound for meaning and comprehension. Based on this premise that text is visual, any written material can be contextualized as visual language.

Text as Visual Language is a juried cross-disciplinary exhibition in the Millstone Gallery at COCA that welcomes all works using text primarily as visual forms of expression. Submitted artworks can range from an abstracted thesis of an anthropology researcher, to a video of a baby learning to speak for the first time, a computer glitch that distorts an e-book version of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” or even a logo project of a freshman graphic design student. Text as Visual Language is seeking works that challenge the boundary of text (letters, words, sentences, paragraphs, passages, books, and so on) and its interconnected relationship to all forms of visual language.

The text can be manipulated to emphasize parts of its original meaning, to alter aspects of its form and transform its original content into a new content, or to be completely divorced from its original form or translation. The exhibition is open to individuals living in the St. Louis area ONLY.

Download Submission PDF

Entries for this exhibition are accepted via email only at

Yvonne Osei, COCA Curator-In-Residence

Buzz Spector, internationally recognized artist and critical writer
Tate Foley, Assistant Professor of Art in the Leigh Gerdine College of Fine Arts at Webster University
Pacia Elaine Anderson, St. Louis-based written, spoken, visual, and teaching Word Artist

All explorations and interpretations of the theme are invited (including 2D and 3D works, video installations, as well as performance, poetry and spoken word).

Open to artists and non-artists of all ages living in the St. Louis, Missouri region and surrounding 50-mile radius.

*ONLY individuals from the St. Louis region may submit–if you live further than 50 miles, we appreciate your interest, but you are not eligible. 

The deadline to submit works for this exhibition: February 26, 2019 (11:59 CST). There is no application fee.

All entrants will be notified via email of their selection status by Friday, March 1, 2019.

April 5, 2019 – May 19, 2019,

The Millstone Gallery at COCA, 524 Trinity Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63130,

Entries for this exhibition are accepted online only at

*Please note that this is an online entry process. The entry & upload process does require time, so please allow yourself adequate time when applying for & submitting your work to this exhibit. Advance registration (prior to entry deadline date) and image uploads are highly recommended.


  • Limit per submission: three (3) original artworks that respond to the theme of the exhibition, “Text as Visual Language” as described at top of this call for entry. Only (1) artwork per submission will be selected for exhibition.
  • Works must be framed or, if not framed, in a pre-approved presentation.
  • Size limits: Final installation size on all work should not exceed 6ft (72″) LENGTH, 6ft (72″) WIDTH, and 3ft (36″) DEPTH this includes frame and all equipment needed for display.
  • COCA uses traditional hanging hardware (hooks/nails) to hang artworks from their wires on the back of the pieces. Artworks will NOT be nailed or tacked directly to a wall. Millstone Gallery will not allow the application of velcro, glue or any other substance to apply artworks directly to the wall.
  • Artworks with loose or sharp parts will NOT be considered.


  • Online submissions of JPG, MP4 and WAV files only will be considered
  • Limit of 2 JPGs per 2D artwork: 1 full view is required and you may also submit (not required) either 1 detail OR 1 alternate view.
  • Limit of 3 JPGs per 3D artwork: 1 full view is required and you may also submit (not required) detail and/or alternate views for a clear understanding of the work.
  • Please make sure that the digital images of your artworks are in focus and cropped to feature only your artwork.

Upload requirements for image files:

  • File format: JPG, MP4 and WAV only.
  • File dimensions: JPGs: No smaller than 1920 pixels on the longest size.
  • File resolution: JPGs: 72 ppi/dpi (standard web resolution).
  • File size: JPGs: 5MB maximum, MP4s and WAVs: 300MB maximum

The method by which ALL exhibitions are juried at COCA is a fair and blind (anonymous) process. At no time before or during the jurying process do our Jurors know the names of entering artists. Exhibition Jurors are presented all entrants’ JPGs, MP4s and WAVs in anonymous digital image, video and audio presentations and the only information provided to them pertains to the artwork and includes the following: artwork title, year, media, and dimensions. Artwork selection decisions are, in part, based on a set of specific jurying instructions & criteria relating to the theme of the exhibit as well as specific conditions & rules of the Gallery.

All artworks will be marked Not for Sale (NFS). No works marked POR (price on request) will be accepted. Artworks are insured at 50% of retail value during exhibit. Artists are responsible for work in transit to/from COCA.


  • All work selected for exhibit must be delivered to Gallery ready to install.
  • Work must be framed & equipped with hanging wire stretched across back of artwork.
  • Specific audio and video installation requirements must be resolved in advance with clear directions and devices provided by artist.


COCA reserves the right to photograph all exhibited works for web use and publicity purposes. Accepted artists will be required to send high resolution JPGs of accepted artworks to COCA for exhibition records/paperwork and publicity.


  • Artworks juried into exhibit are to be hand-delivered to COCA
    • Delivery dates/times: March 8 and March 9, 9am-5pm
  • Exhibited artworks are to be picked-up at the end of the show
    • Pick up dates/times: May 21, May 22 and May 24; 9am-5pm)