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9A Letters (work of art)

Artwork Info

Linear installation of nine components approximately 177 inches (449.6 centimeters)


Purchased with funds from the North Carolina State Art Society (Robert F. Phifer Bequest)

Object Number

Key Ideas

  • This work is made up of nine sculptures made of cardboard and paper. All nine pieces are unpainted and similar in size. They are arranged in a line, which gives the composition unity.
  • Each component is a letter represented as a three-dimensional form. Each letter represents one of nine alphabets that were used in Egypt. From left to right the letters represent the Hieroglyphic, Kufic, Coptic, Hieratic, Old Roman, Naskh, Demotic, Old Athens, and Modern alphabets.
  • The number of letters (nine) is significant to ancient Egyptian systems of measurement, but the materials and forms look modern, like urban architecture.

Learn More

Artist El Mestikawy creates architecturally styled sculptures using recycled materials like cardboard, newspaper, and other paper scraps that were originally designed as product packaging for mass consumption. His work titled 9A Letters is a group of nine sculpted letterforms made from recycled cardboard and paper. Each letter (in this case, the letter A) represents the first letter of nine alphabets used in ancient Egypt. The number nine is also significant to ancient Egyptian history and systems of measurement; “nine arms” was a standard measure of length in ancient Egypt. The abstract, three-dimensional form of these letters further transforms each piece into a geometric object that goes beyond language and simple text. 

tags: shape, rhythm, writing, change, communication, function, place, time, variation

Additional Resources

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  • An image of nine three-dimensional cardboard sculptures of the letter A arranged in a line.

    9A Letters

    sculptural rendering of the first letter of nine alphabets