“Life is nothing without friendship.”Marcus Tullius Cicero
I often use the ampersand in my writing, but I never thought to consider the origin of this symbol, until I encountered Ricky Alvarez’s sculpture, Ampersand.
The ampersand (&) is an ancient symbol that can be traced back to the 1st century A.D., to Marcus Tullius Cicero and his slave, Tiro.
Tiro, who was educated in Latin and Greek was an invaluable secretary to Marcus Tullius Cicero. As statesman, lawyer and orator, Cicero required Tiro to write down his many speeches quickly, without errors. Tiro’s response was to invent a shorthand system that, according to what I have read, would last more than 1,000 years. The ampersand was included in Tiro’s system. In Old Roman cursive, Tiro brought the letters E and T together to create a ligature to replace “et” the Latin word for “and”.
Cicero and Tiro must have been kindred spirits. In 53 B.C. Cicero freed Tiro. They continued working together until Cicero’s death, at which time Tiro published some of his patron’s speeches and letters as well as a biography.
Ampersand 2014 by Ricky Alvarez
“The ampersand resembles a broken infinity symbol, reminding us that nothing lasts forever. But there will always be an ampersand between “You” & “Me”. This piece captures the history and culture of “love locks” found throughout the world. You are encouraged to add a lock to the installation and contribute your own story to the piece.” Ricky Alvarez
Ricky Alvarez is an installation artist, born and raised in Mexico City, now working from Vancouver Canada. Ricky works with raw and evocative materials to construct unconventional applications and produce a visual narrative that is subjective to each viewer.