Thursday, June 07, 2018

Poets/ Artists Ponder 'Breath and Matter' Article by Doug Holder

( Left to Right) Jodi Colella, Chris Frost, Audrey Henderson, David Daniel, Jodi Colella, Julia Shepley

Poets/ Artists Ponder 'Breath and Matter'

Article by Doug Holder

I was pondering a question over my dark ale (with a hint of citrus) at the Remnant Brewery in the new Bow Market in Union Square. It was posed by the poet Robert Pinsky in the foreword of an anthology of poems about sculpture. He asked, “ What has art made of breath to do with art made of matter?” Well—six people joined me at my table to answer that question: Chris Frost—a Somerville-- based sculptor, David Daniel—former editor of Ploughshares magazine, as well as the head of Creative Writing at Fairleigh Dickinson University, Jodi Colella—a sculptor and a mixed-- media artist based in Somerville, Wendy Drexler, a noted poet, Julia Shepely –an artist and one of the founders of the Brickbottom Gallery in Somerville, MA., as well as poet Audrey Henderson -- the author of the collection “Air Stream.”

They were all here to discuss a project they are involved in that will appear at the Boston Sculptor's Gallery in Boston, starting July 18, 2018. The project is titled “ Breath and Matter.” On the website of the gallery it states that they, “... invited poets to partner with artists to create collaborative work combining both of their voices... twenty four pairs of sculptors and writers have taken up the challenges of this timeless question.” These artistic partners respond to each other. The sculptor interprets the words of the poet through concrete material such as silk, steel, bronze, rawhide, granite, wood, glass, etc...

Many distinguished poets will be included like for U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky, Boston Poet Laureate Danielle Legros Georges, Mary Bonina, and others.

Chris Frost and David Daniel talked about a notebook they are creating--a work still in progress. Frost has provided the illustrations and Daniel-- the poems. Daniel told me, " I hope we capture the process of collaboration. We have found poems easily lead to images."

Now...getting back to that daunting question. When I posed it to them, there were a lot of laughs. David Daniel piped in, “ Maybe I should text Robert.” But the most succinct comment I heard among the gaggle --in regards to why this project matters was, “To make what is intangible—tangible." So sculpture --in a sense-- will give poetry a tangible form.

Jodi Colella, (who I have had the privilege to interview years back) has paired her sculpture with Wendy Drexler's poetry. They both met by a twist of fate, and both came to realize their process is similar. They start their artistic exploration with intense observation as a way to get in the marrow of, or deep meaning of their subjects. So-of all things they turned to MOSS--which they feel shares many of the same traits as humans like: resilience, collaboration, as well as being opportunistic. So Colella created the sculpture  (seen below) and Drexler came up  the words to go with it.  Colella adorned the moss with piercing human eyes. The pair even developed a lesson plan for schools based on their collaboration.

Julia Shepley and poet Audrey Henderson have their work speak to each other. According to the Boston Sculpture Gallery website they  "...have identified common themes and concerns in their respective work: the significance of early memory as it relates to architecture and architecture as repository of meaning and emotion; the residual energy of inhabited space; and the significance of handcrafted objects as expressions of love and affection.  In the dynamic process of passing from one medium to the other, certain shared elements have intensified and accumulated layers of complexity and association."

Muse by Julia Shepley

This should be a unique exhibit at the Boston Sculpture Gallery  486 Harrison Ave, Boston.   For more information about the gallery and artists go to:

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