In this contribution, Devon Balwit and Laura Page discuss their respective art forms and the ‘larger conversation between creators’ created in collaboration.
Devon: What is it about Laura Page’s work (or any artist’s) that calls to me? As with good poetry, the image leaves me with unanswered questions, an itch that I want to get at. It offers an opening for my word-play. For example, this morning on FB, Laura posted an image that I’m eager to get at, called “God Particle.” What couldn’t a poet do with the title alone? Beyond that, the work is abstract. I find it ironic that, as a child, my art historian mother would walk me through the modern art wing of the Detroit Museum of Arts, and I’d protest. “This isn’t art! A child could paint these!” Now, it’s precisely the geometric, the spare, the minimalistic that call forth the most powerful torrents. Laura’s work is interesting too because often it has just enough “story” or formalism to serve as a hook. For example, the title “God Particle” suggests creation, expansion, intention, mystery, physics, theology. What a lot of rich associations to play with! Or, in her Caryatid Sequence that the Long Exposure poems emerged from, a caryatid is a “stone carving of a draped female figure.” So right away, I knew my narrative voice would be female. What and who she would be was determined by the color, the movement, the mood of Laura’s abstract brushwork. As you can see in Caryatid V, I explored many possibilities for this figure in a single poem, some dire and others benign. Finally, it is extremely satisfying to answer another work, to embed my writing in a larger conversation between creators.
Laura: Devon mentions a perception of abstract impressionism that I think is interesting and would like to comment on, here, briefly. One hears too often that a child could create some of the more abstract patterns and shapes found in this kind of visual art, and no doubt the idea is that, visually, the piece(s) are sometimes simplistic or lacking in complexity or they seem to lack in some formal, conceptual. or academic way. I think, however, that folks have not looked too closely at children’s artwork, when they say such things. There’s a purity and an honesty and a dead-earnestness that characterizes many children’s drawings and paintings that I think requisite for visual communication. Devon is one of the most perceptive artists I know responding to visual art, and not just my own. She’s introduced me to many painters and conceptual artists I would not have known otherwise and given me a broader appreciation for the art of ekphrasis. She answers visual media in such skillfully narrative and nuanced ways, it’s always rewarding to collaborate.
What The Tongueless Say, an example poem from Devon Laura’s ekphrastic work, is available on Long Exposure here.