Inspired by A Brush with Silence, Sept. 19, 2009, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9d-tcQS5WW, a calligraphic performance designed and implemented by Brody Neuenschwander, Friends of the Alphabet member Emily Canter organized a similar event for the guild. The Neuenschwander event was an inspired display that led viewers to see the beauty and variety of calligraphic arts in an atmosphere of quiet that transformed the experience. By explicit design, the event was devoid of any commercialism.
The subsequent FOTA event was called Illuminated Letters, and was first held January 26, 2012, at Trinity United Methodist Church in downtown Atlanta. Twenty calligraphers participated. In an effort to place the emphasis on the writing, the artists wore black to blend into the surrounding darkness. Lit by only a single spotlight on their work surface, the calligraphers sat in silence and wrote for 4 hours, each person demonstrating a different script. Prior to entering the scriptorium space, visitors were asked to observe, but not to speak with the calligraphers. To give background to the event, each guest was provided with a brief historical guide to the scripts demonstrated. It was a truly magical and inspiring event, and even though the participants were quite drained when the event ended, it was decided to repeat the experience the following year.
On March 6, 2013, the second Illuminated Letters was held, and this time 23 calligraphers participated. Again, the calligraphers wore black to draw attention to the act of writing, and viewers were provided with written guides to the scripts. Professional videographer Felipe Barral documented the event, https://vimeo.com/62040949.
On September 9, 2014, the third Illuminated Letters took place in a new location, the Hudgens Center for Art & Learning in Gwinett county. In this iteration, two calligraphers were made available outside the quiet of the scriptorium to answer visitor questions. The event also included two other exhibits of calligraphic work at the arts center.
Since the original concept was presented by Brody in 2009, many other calligraphy guilds around the world have presented similar events, including, Japan 2010, North Carolina 2016, Estonia 2018, and Moscow 2018.