Tuesday, May 5, 2009
POETRY and GIFTS
I have been making small books and wall pieces that include favorite poems sporadically for about twenty years now. They are almost always conceived of as a gift for a particular person. I am working on one now and it has given me time to reflect about how deep and intimate the process of making something for someone is. The time of making is also time to think about the other person, remember shared moments and hold that other person in a tangible but ethereal way. We do it when we cook or sew or burn a cd - we take our time and fill it with connection.
One of my many majors during my first year at RISD was illustration. I never ended up pursuing it though my pieces are often illustrations of my personal, unwritten narratives. I have always found the best illustrations are ones that expand upon the writer's words and capture a something however simple that can't be expressed in words. The visualization exists in the space between the words which makes poetry especially satisfying to work with since the spaces are larger.
I make my objects as containers for the writers' voices, a material place for the words to rest. I make them as containers for my love, a material place for it to rest as well. I hold the words - often hand lettering the poem so the shaping of the letters become part of my hand memory.
I never sell these pieces and rarely photograph them. For one thing I borrow the poetry without obtaining permission from the poets. And the impulse to make a piece is not only about creating my own images but also about expressing the bond between me and the recipient. I like to think of them like little boats floating away - delicate threads connecting them to me and creating a web.