In the Biblical tale of the Tower of Babel, the Hebrew God punishes proud humans who build to the heavens, scattering and cursing his would-be rivals to chatter henceforth in a welter of tongues. Modern linguistics takes the more appreciative view that evolution bestows on our species a chameleon-like capacity for languages. We are born into language with a brain equipped to learn it, and each child matures within a particular culture through the medium of its language.
“Beyond Words,” a survey of visual art engaged with language, gathers 35 works in many media by both local and international artists at Boston’s Fountain Street Gallery, on view through March 27. Juror Gabriel Sosa, who teaches “Con(text)ualized Drawing” at Massachusetts College of Art and Design, wisely resists a Western-centric emphasis on written “text.” He delivers an inclusive overview of the diverse ways language functions in, alongside and around visual art.