Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Rumi's 'The Awakening' (Filmpoem)

The short below, The Awakening (Maya Pictures, 2014), is a cinematic treatment of Rumi's poem "The Awakening", filmed, directed, and edited by Ivan Maria Friedman. 

The actress, who also provides the voiceover, is Elena Samuylova. The music is Wagner's Das Rheingold, Scene I: Vorspiel.

The poem's text can be found in The Love Poems of Rumi (Harmony, 1998), edited by Deepak Chopra.

THE AWAKENING from Ivan Friedman - MAYA PICTURES on Vimeo.

Rumi (1207-1273)

Monday, February 27, 2017

Monday Muse: Poems of Protest

Today's post spotlights two noteworthy volumes of protest poems that I've read and highly recommend.

Poems for Political Disaster (2017) ~ Edited by Timothy Donnelly, B.K. Fischer, Stefania Heim, and Matt Lord, the Boston Review's chapbook Poems for Political Disaster is the first in an intended series of responses to the November 2016 presidential election in the United States. U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera provides the Foreword, as well as the concluding poem "the experiment". Among the 35 other well-known contributing poets are Mary Jo Bang, Lucie Brock-Broido, Jericho Brown, Stephen Burt, Carolyn Forche, Peter Gizzi, Jorie Graham, Brenda Hillman, Major Jackson, Ilya Kaminsky, Amy King, Solmaz Sharif, and Matthew Zapruder. Their voices, while they collectively question, implore, provoke, and call out for resistance, remain as distinctive as they are necessary. Some remark on loss, others foreshadow dystopia, not a few look to hope, many affirm, as does Dara Wier in her poem "In Which Rising Inequality Eventually Triggers Countervailing Social Dislocations",

Anyone who feels good about any of this never wakes up again.
[. . .]
Anyone whose heart isn't broken begins breaking.

Boston Review on FaceBook and Tumblr

Of Poetry & Protest: From Emmett Till to Trayvon Martin (W.W. Norton, 2016) ~ Compiled and edited by Philip Cushway, who conceived the two-years-long project, and Michael Warr, the poetry editor, this substantial and impressive, "unapologetically political" anthology offers work by a Who's Who of African American poets, including Amiri Baraka, Kwame Dawes, Nikkey Finney, Terrance Hayes, Major Jackson, Douglas Kearney, Ishmael Reed, Frank X Walker, and Pulitzer Prize-winners Rita Dove, Yusef Komunyakaa, Tracy K. Smith, and Natasha Trethewey.

In addition to the poems by the 43 contributors, the beautifully produced 224-page book includes candid photographs by Victoria Smith of all the poets, as well as brief biographical statements and personal, often moving essays in which the poets trace their paths into poetry and what poetry means to them. Quotes and images of seminal figures, events, and posters that endow the highly relevant poetry with important historical and cultural context, from the earliest days of the Civil Rights Movement to the current #BlackLivesMatter movement, also are included. To bring together in a single, cohesive volume so many remarkable bearers of witness — poets who, Ware points out, "are collectively joined through the transformative work of truth-telling" — is a laudable achievement.

This is not a volume to read only once and put away on a shelf, though Ware writes that his hope is "that one day this book is a relic", for the urgency of its words attest to the considerable work remaining to all of us to do, if we are ever to realize what The Rev. Dr. William Barber II says in the Epilogue is "a longing for a moral movement that plows deep into our souls."

Cover Art

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Thought for the Day

[. . .]—the secret is that the world loves you in direct
proportion to how much you love it.
~ Laura Kasischke

Quoted from Laura Kasischke'a "Lottery" in The Infinitesimals (Copper Canyon Press, 2014), p. 45

Laura Kasischke, Novelist and Poet

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Saturday Short

Today's short is Dear Mr. Shakespeare, from the British Council's Shakespeare Lives 2016 project. It is inspired by Shakespeare's tragedy Othello. The film's director is Shola Amoo.

British Council FaceBook

Shakespeare Lives on Instagram

Shola Amoo Film on FaceBook

Friday, February 24, 2017

All Art Friday

All Art Friday

All Art Friday Spotlights

✦ The American Craft Council is observing its 75th anniversary this year. To celebrate, it's enclosing in each issue of its American Craft magazine a poster from a collectible series of nine that only subscriber-members will receive. (The magazine publishes six times a year.) The first poster, which appeared in the February/March issue, is the wonderful makers' vision statement. 

ACC on FaceBook and Instagram

Note: The ACC's annual Baltimore, Maryland, Craft Show began February 22 and continues through this weekend.

✦ Illustrator and author Christoph Niemann has published a new book: Sunday Sketching (Abrams, October 2016); a German edition is available. Among Nieman's many other books are WORDS (Greenwillow Books, October 2016  ), a visual dictionary for children.

Cover Art

Christoph Niemann on FaceBook and Instagram

✦ A multi-part video art instruction series, Art Basics with Dick Termes, launched in late January on South Dakota Public Broadcasting. The Online and Education Department at SDPB has created a complementary teaching and user guide, including lesson plans and ideas for activities. (Read the series announcement.)

Art Basics with Dick Termes on YouTube

✦ Textile artist Tien Chiu has published Master Your Craft: Strategies for Designing, Making, and Selling Artisan Work (Schiffer Publishing, 2016). The 176-page book offers insights from 22 master artisans, including glass artists, fiber artists, metalworkers, and ceramists, and provides a structured, practical approach to sustaining a successful career in craft-making. (View Table of Contents.)

Cover Art

Tien Chiu Blog

✦ South Africa-born sculptor Estella Fransbergen concentrates her attention of "the expression of human form"; in particular, the female torso. In addition to working with clay and bronze, the primary media for her torsos, Fransbergen uses such materials as crochet wire, glass, twigs, shells, feathers, Swarovski crystals, and pearls, quartz, and coral, to give the torsos both a fuller bodily shape and sense of movement. Her gorgeous creations combine the aspects of strength with the seemingly ethereal. The artist, who lives in the U.S., will be showing her work this weekend at the American Craft Council's Craft Show in Baltimore, Maryland. Visit her Website to view Fransbergen's portfolio.

Estella Fransbergen on FaceBook

✦ Here's an abbreviated Louisiana Channel film from Roxanne Bageshirin Laerkesen in which five artists — Richard Serra, Phyllida Barlow, Antony Gormley, Sarah Sze, and Doug Aitken — talk about making sculptures.

Full interviews with each of the artists can be found at "5 Artists on Making Sculptures".

Exhibitions Here and There

✭ The Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, New York, is presenting "Poets and Painters" through October 30. Among work on view: Darragh Park's painting Oriane (c. 1982) with an autograph poem by James Schuyler; Jennifer Bartlett's painting At Sands Point #16 (1985-1986); Alex Katz's photoengraving Portrait of Frank O'Hara (2009); and Ray Johnson's collage Marianne Moore's Hat (1973).

Parrish Art Museum on FaceBook and Vimeo

✭ Work by New Mexico-based multidisciplinary artist and educator Paula Wilson is on view through April 29 at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, Omaha, Nebraska. Featuring Wilson's paintings, videos, black-and-white prints, and prints on fabric, the solo exhibition, "Paula Wilson: The Backward Glance", addresses themes of race, identity, and objectification of the female body in the context of reimagined historic heroines — the Athenian Acropolis's caryatids — whose narratives Wilson reconstructs to represent the reclaiming of feminine and multicultural power. Several photographs from the installation are at the exhibition link.

Paula Wilson on FaceBook and Instagram

Bemis Center on FaceBook and Instagram

✭ Continuing through March 26 at Fuller Craft Museum, Brockton, Massachusetts, is "John Bisbee: Material Obsession", comprising the site-specific installation of welded spikes, Out of the Garden, including the sculptures Viper (2016) and Fruit of My Roots (2016), and Text (2016). Adhering to his manta, "Only Nails, Always Different", Bisbee crafts his work from the single medium he has used for almost three decades. See Bisbee's recent work for views of the remarkable installation.

Here's a short video with the sculptor:

Fuller Craft Museum on FaceBook

✭ Like John Bisbee, sculptor Al Farrow also works with limited material:  second-hand guns and ammunition that he repurposes to create extraordinary objects, including reliquaries, mosques, cathedrals, and a variety of other devotional pieces such as menorahs. Farrow's talents as showcased in the exhibition "Divine Ammunition: The Sculpture of Al Farrow", at Washington's Bellevue Arts Museum through May 7, will leave you amazed. A generous selection of Farrow's architectural structures can be seen at the exhibition link above and on Farrow's Website (see Reliquaries).

Here's a 2009 video with Farrow at his Marin, California, studio (the video runs approximately 28 minutes):

Al Farrow on FaceBook

Bellevue Arts Museum on FaceBook, Instagram, and Vimeo

✭ While you're in Washington State, head to Tacoma's Museum of Glass for "Into the Deep". Continuing through September, the exhibition presents more than 55 marine-inspired glass objects by 16 national and international artists, including Alfredo Barbini (1912-2007), Dale Chihuly, Shayna Leib, Kelly O'Dell, Kait Rhoads, Raven Skyriver, and Hiroshi Yamano. Three digital tours are available. Fifteen of the displayed pieces were made in the museum's own Hot Shop.

On April 30, from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., the museum is host to the exhibition-related program "Kids Design Glass in the Hot Shop".

Museum of Glass on FaceBook and YouTube

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Thursday's Three on Art

Today, Thursday's Three spotlights a trio of noteworthy art titles.

The Pen and the Brush: How Passion for Art Shaped Nineteenth-Century French Novels (Other Press, January 31, 2017) ~ Historian and writer Anka Muhlstein, winner of the Prix Goncourt de la Biographie and two-time recipient of the French Academy's History Prize, has written biographies of Queen Victoria, James de Rothschild, Elizabeth I and Mary Stuart, and Astolphe de Custine, among others; with her husband, Louis Begley, she co-wrote Venice for Lovers (2005). Her new book, The Pen and the Brush, focuses on such writers as Honore de Balzac, Emile Zola, Marcel Proust, Joris-Karl Huysmans, and Guy de Maupassant and the role of painters, such as Cezanne and Delacroix, as characters in their novels. 

Read an excerpt from The Pen and the Brush, which was translated by Adriana Hunter.

On March 23, 7:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m., Muhlstein will give a lecture, answer questions, and sign copies of her book at the Alliance Francaise of Greenwich, Greenwich, Connecticut.

Provoke: Photography in Japan Between Protest and Performance 1960 - 1975 (Steidl, 2016) ~ Accompanying the traveling exhibition "Provoke", at the Art Institute of Chicago through April 30, the 680-page, scholarly catalogue focuses on the short-lived, experimental Japanese magazine Provoke — its creators, its historical context, and its post-war influence on photography. The book is in English and includes 600 images.

Additional Information About Provoke

The Materiality of Mourning (Harvard Art Museums, January 2017) ~ Harvard Art Museums curator Mary Schneider Enriquez examines the past 15 years (2001 to present) of the sculptor and installation artist's work on political violence and oppression, with particular attention given to the development and evolution of her approach, her artistic practice, and her use of organic and nontraditional materials. Also including an essay by conservation scientist Narayan Khandekar and a contribution from Salcedo, the illustrated book accompanies the exhibition "Doris Salcedo: The Materiality of Mourning" at Harvard Art Museums through April 9.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Wednesday Artist: Jiang Zhi

Chinese artist Jiang Zhi, a graduate of the China Academy of Fine Arts, practiced journalism from 1995 to 2005, work that exposed him continually to important sociocultural issues — for example, issues about the body and gender; materialism and mass consumerism; isolation and estrangement; fate, change, and transformation — that he addresses in his art using video, which he favors, and other contemporary media. His use of light, color, and cloth lends an often deeply expressive feeling to Jiang's art that sometimes can seem strikingly at odds with the narrative of the subject matter, especially where Jiang incorporates materials from social events, social media, and public figures such as Mao Zadong and Deng Xiaoping. (See Dun Dongdong's article "Binary System".) Reviewers of his work frequently reference the metaphorical and poetic qualities of  Jiang's art (see Jiang's Corner and Above the white), the latter particularly effective in pointing up the contrasting realities the art underscores, as in, for example, Black SentencesI am your poetry No. 1 and No. 6,  and Jiang's video Fly, Fly, which depicts a hand miming a bird in flight (escaping?), or at least flapping its wings, even though the reality is that it's confined to a cramped space. Some work, such as I am your poetry No. 4, are as unsettling as they are dramatic.

One photographic series that I am particularly drawn to is Jiang's multidisciplinary Love Letters,(2011-2014), in which he contrasts the symbolism of fire and flowers (he used orchids, lilies, roses, sunflowers, and peonies), the real and the illusory, violence and beauty, life and death, the temporal and the ever-lasting. Learning subsequently that Jiang created the series after the 2010 death of his wife, who was just 37, and that his wife's Chinese name meant "Orchid" upsets pre-conceived notions about that symbolism and artistic intent. (Six images from Love Letters are at White Rabbit; click on Portfolio. Additional images may be seen online at M97 Gallery, White Cube, Artsy, My Modern Met, Visual Sundae, and Trendhunter.) 

Jiang's Love Letters was reproduced in the limited-edition volume Jiang Zhi — Love Letters (Thircuir Books, 2015). It also is available in paperback.

Cover Art (Paperback Edition)

In addition to video and photography, Jiang's artistic practice encompasses oil and silkscreen painting, sculpture, and installation.

In the following video, from Kadist Art Foundation, the artist talks about contemporary Chinese art:

Jiang Zhi, interviewed by Xioayu Weng from KADIST on Vimeo.

Jiang Zhi Website (Note: The Website is in Chinese, although there are in Criticism a number of very interesting critical articles or notes about Jiang's art that appear in both Chinese and English.)

Photography of China Website (Images of Jiang's Love Letters are here.)

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

'Hoosier Quilt' (Filmpoem)

The short below, Hoosier Quilt (ThinkAhead Studios, 2017), directed by Jason Drake and Lexi Hiland, features 2016-2017 Indiana Poet Laureate Shari Wagner's poem of the same name. Showcasing local artists' creativity, it was created for the Indiana Arts Commission in celebration of the IAC's 50th Anniversary.

The music is by Timothy Carlos and is performed by Natalie Cole, Logan Jones, Kim Busic, and Carol Weirich. Featured are Jerry Karwowski (Painter), Frank Steans (Guitarist), Lexi Hiland (Pianist), Matt McMahon (Wanderer), Emilia Floody (Dancer), and Daren Redman (Quilter). Grace Milligan provides narration. Some footage is from the Indiana Department of Tourism Development.

Shari Wagner on FaceBook

Monday, February 20, 2017

Monday Muse: Edna St. Vincent Millay at Vassar

One of Vassar College's many famous alumnae is the poet Edna St. Vincent Millay (aka "Vincent") (February 22, 1892 - October 19, 1950), who was a student at the college from 1913 to 1917; she published her poem "Renascence" in 1912 and was already known before her arrival on campus. Her legacy at the college is "significant," says Special Collections Librarian Ronald Patkus.* That legacy is now the subject of the exhibition "Edna St. Vincent Millay: Treasures from Steepletop", on view in Vassar's Thompson Memorial Library and the Art Library through June 11. (Now a museum open from May through October, Steepletop, in Austerlitz, New York, was Millay's home. Formerly, it was a berry farm. Vassar College is in Poughkeepsie, New York.)

The free, open-to-the-public exhibition, organized by Patkus and the Edna St. Vincent Millay Society, commemorates the 125th anniversary of Millay's birth, focusing on the importance to the poet of both Vassar and Steepletop. Interestingly, the exhibition is organized by season. On display are photos of Millay at Steepletop; excerpts from letters, first-edition books, and poems that complement each seasonal section of the exhibit; and such personal items as Millay's hunting rifle, the typewriter that traveled with Millay, and Millay's china, crystal, and jewelry. The artifacts, says Millay literary executor and scholar Holly Peppe, reflect the Bohemian lifestyle Millay and her friends enjoyed on the Steepletop hill, from swimming au naturel in a spring-fed pool to partying at an outdoor bar. . . ."*

The curator of the Vassar exhibition is Mark O'Berski, vice president of the Millay Society.

A smaller exhibition, "Millay at Vassar", opens at Steepletop in May. Drawn from the college's archives and curated by Gretchen Lieb, Vassar's reference librarian, the exhibition will bring together originals and facsimiles of works by the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet.

In addition, in the Photo Gallery of Vassar's art center is "A Certain Zest: Artists' Portraits of Edna St. Vincent Millay" (referenced above). It runs in conjunction with "Treasures from Steepletop".


* Quoted from Office of Communications's exhibition announcement, which is also the principal source of information for this post. A number of images accompany the announcement.

Exhibition Checklist

Exhibition-Related Videos

Steepletop on FaceBook

Vassar College on FaceBook

Vassar College Art Library on FaceBook

The Library of Congress also is the repository for portrait photographs of Millay by Berenice Abbott, Arnold Genthe, and Carl Van Vechten. Also see American Treasures of the Library of Congress, A Voice of Her Generation, where you'll find an image of a pencil holograph of the unfinished original draft (c. 1912) of the poem "Renascence".

"The EDNA Project: The Poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay Set to Music" (This project benefited Rockland Historical Society's effort "Saving a Literary Landmark — Restoring the Edna St. Vincent Millay Birthplace".)

The New York Times Obituary (October 20, 1950)

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Thought for the Day

. . .it is when art has to face human suffering and does
not isolate tragedy from the ironies of survival that
the absurdity of being hits us in the face.
~ Mai Ghoussoub

Quoted from Mai Ghoussoub, "Beirut and Contradiction" in Selected Writings (Saqi Books, 2008), p. 102

Mai Ghoussoub (1952-2007), Lebanese Writer, Playwright, Artist, Publisher (Saqi Books), Human Rights Activist

Mai Ghoussoub Obituary at The Guardian