Friday, November 30, 2012

All Art Friday

All Art Friday

All Art Friday Spotlights

✦ A Lebanese gallerist, Cynthia Nouhra, who holds degrees in interior design, art history, the science of religions, and philosophy, also is a talented abstract painter. Her explosively colorful, light-filled acrylics on canvas are visually striking, a great pleasure for the eye.

Cynthia Nouhra Art Gallery (CNAG) on FaceBook and YouTube

✦ What kinds of social networks might artists have created 100 years ago? For the upcoming "Inventing Abstraction, 1910-1925", running December 23 to April 15 at the Museum of Modern Art, curator Leah Dickerman collaborated with Columbia Business School professor Paul Ingram, a network analysis expert, to map connections among visual artists, poets, musicians, dancers, filmmakers, and others of the time. Their interactive map will go live on an exhibition-related Website when the show opens. Go here to learn more about the collaboration and to see images.

✦ Ursinus College's Berman Museum of Art, Collegeville, Pennsylvania, curated an exhibition "Access-Ability: Deconstructing and Reconstructing Art for Access" specifically for individuals with Alzheimer's or other dementias. The intention behind the exhibition: to explore how art can be used as a therapeutic experience to trigger and stimulate memories and emotions that otherwise might be lost to dementias. The museum partnered with a nursing facility to select work from the museum's collection for the show, which closes December 3. Berman is part of the ARTZ museum network.

Peter Crimmins, "Art Program Helps Alzeimer's Patients Focus", Newsworks, WHYYY, September 24, 2012

ARTZ on FaceBook and Twitter

✦ The Whitney Museum's Seniors Programs is a collaboration with community-based senior organizations to create programs that encourage senior residents of New York City to engage actively with the museum's collection and exhibitions. The Studio Museum in Harlem works with the nonprofit Arts & Minds to deliver arts programs for adults with memory disorders.

Carne Griffith's drawings in tea and calligraphy inks on paper are dark and beautiful. The artist, who also uses brandy, vodka, and graphite to create floral and figurative images, had a show in October at ink-d in the UK; the gallery sells limited-edition giclees of Griffiths's images.

Exhibitions Here and There

✭ In Washington, D.C., the National Building Museum is presenting "Detroit Is No Dry Bones", photographs by Camilo Jose Vergara. On view through February 18, 2013, the exhibition presents Vergara's documentation of the city's decline and survival over 25 years. The show runs concurrently with "Detroit Disassembled", photographs by Andrew Moore.

In this video, Vergara explains the image from which the exhibition's title is taken:

For additional exhibition-related videos, go here.

✭ Painting, sculpture, and video work by artists of Little City are being celebrated in the exhibition "Full Circle" running through January 6 at Rockford Art Museum, Rockford, Illinois. The Center for the Arts at Little City Foundation, Palatine, Illinois, offers an innovative fine art program for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The show, which includes a 40-foot mural, explores the artists' talents and how they use art to communicate.

Exhibition Images on Pinterest

Rockford Art Museum on FaceBook and Twitter

✭ Easton, Maryland's Academy Art Museum opened "The Art of Seating: Two Hundred Years of American Design" on November 24. The show, which runs through February 10, is a survey of chair design from the early 19th Century to today. Approximately 40 chairs, including designs by the Stickley Brothers, Frank Lloyd Wright, Charles and Ray Eames, and Isamu Noguchi, are presented as sculptural as well as functional items and in their historical, socio-economic, political, and cultural contexts.

AAM on FaceBook

✭ Visual narratives by more than 30 visionary artists are on view in "The Art of Storytelling: Lies, Enchantment, Humor & Truth" at American Visionary Art Museum, Baltimore, Maryland. Included in the exhibition, which runs through September 1, 2013, are Beatrice Coron's marvelous paper cut-out stories, Esther Krinitz's moving 36-piece embroidered story about surviving the Holocaust (see video below), Andi Olsen's filmed stories about human body scars; and Vanessa German's sculpture assemblages that tell the "soul stories" in African-American history. 

In this video, Krinitz speaks with filmmaker Lawrence Kasdan about her story art, "Fabric of Survival":

AVAM on FaceBook, Twitter, and YouTube

Notable Exhibits Abroad

✭ A selection of Frida Kahlo's clothing has gone on view at the Frida Kahlo Museum (Museo Frida Kahlo) in Mexico City. The items are from a wardrobe of 300 dresses, bathing suits, accessories, and photographs discovered in 2004 and, until now, kept from public view at the request of muralist Diego Rivera, Kahlo's husband. Included in the show, "Appearances Can Be Deceiving: The Dresses of Frida Kahlo",  are embroidered dresses and blouses, a black velvet cape, silver jewelry, headpieces, and shoes, as well as the white corset depicted in Kahlo's The Broken Column.

Below is a poster announcing the exhibition.

Museo Frida Kahlo on FaceBook and Twitter

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Interview with Holistic Nurse Lisa Wayman, Pt. 2

She Turns to Art to Heal:
Interview with Holistic Nurse Lisa Wayman, Part 2

Yesterday, in Part 1 of my interview, artist and holistic nurse Lisa Wayman discussed how she entered the field of holistic nursing and why she is pursuing doctoral studies in the use of art as a healing intervention. Today, Lisa explains why she turned to art during her late son's illness, what she learned from her art-making and how she applies her "lessons" in life and at work, and what observations she's made about art's beneficial effects on others.

* * * * *

Maureen E. Doallas: Let's talk about your own art-making. Have you studied art formally? Do you paint daily?

Lisa Wayman: I haven't studied art formally. I grew up thinking that I had to be practical and art wasn't practical.

I painted and wrote poetry when I was a kid, then stopped when I  turned 17. I started painting again around the time I turned 31, [when] I moved into holistic nursing [and] H.Lea Gaydos [a mentor] encouraged me to do some self-care, including soul care.

I don't paint daily, though I should.

MD: When you son was diagnosed with cancer, you found yourself strongly called to paint. What do you think prompted your turn at this particular point to active art-making, and to painting (as opposed to some other art form) specifically?

LW: I think I painted when Joe was ill because I had painted before. I had created Dancing with God about a year before Joe was diagnosed; so, when he got sick, the paint just called to me. I am a visual thinker and I experience a visceral pleasure when I put one color next to another and it is just right. I get such joy when [the colors] touch. So maybe that joy pulled me to paint. Maybe it was that words wouldn't hold the experience. I can't be certain why I turned to painting, but I'm glad that I did.

MD: Had you ever used, before Joe's illness, any form of art to make sense of what you were experiencing, or to help you cope, heal, or recover from a life experience?

LW: I did but not to the depth that I did when Joe was ill. Perhaps my need [then] wasn't so great. Dancing with God, a painting I did before Joe was ill, was a joy to paint, partly because it helped me to love my big strong body.

MD: What did (or do) your paintings show you or teach you about yourself?

LW: I think my paintings are a way for me to learn about what I really feel and think. It is easy to lie to myself in words but symbols in paint and non-verbal aspects of visual art express the truth. . . allow [my] subconscious to express itself. . . [T]he paint brings out what is hidden and lets me discover it on my own. For example, I painted New Beginnings when our daughter left home and did not contact us for four years. I knew I was angry and started a large canvas with red slashes; then I was moved to paint blue tear drops down the middle and realized that I was more sad than angry. The painting moves from left to right, from how things were, through [my] anger, to new beginnings. I painted a circle on the right [that] became a symbol of a new and different but whole life. I felt much more hopeful and had a goal —to work toward that new life — after I completed the painting.

MD: What do you think accounts for the insights you are able to make?

LW: I have a capacity for introspection that allows me to look at the art and examine it for meaning. Art inherently takes the hidden and makes it visible; internal processes become external expressions. Art is external to me —has a life of its own — after I create it. There is a separation between me and the experience of [art-making] that allows me a little room to examine [myself] and think in a way that is different. For me, [what is healing about art] is participating in the creative process and then interacting with [the artwork].

MD: How do you apply  the "lessons" of your art-making in your nursing practice and daily life?

LW: I am a recovering perfectionist, and art is great for that. I make mistakes on the canvas all the time and sometimes, I have to get out the white paint and start again, [though] sometimes the mistake is an unplanned, wonderful thing. [Being able to make mistakes on canvas] has helped me be a little more forgiving of myself and more open to [what is] unfolding. I don't need to be so in charge. If I don't paint regularly, I start to forget [that].

MD: Do you  think we all have the capacity to experience the kind of transformative effects you've experienced through art-making? What, besides catastrophic illness or loss, might impel a person to turn to art? What might hold us back from turning to art?

LW: I  think that transformation is the norm [but, like child development,] an uneven and jumping type of development. We think one way, then tension starts to build and we jump to a different level. Some people do this as a gift of grace, some people work hard to prepare for the opportunities, so when a breaking point comes, [they can handle] it. Me? I must be a slow learner, because I seem to take the hard way and need a big catalyst to push me out from where I am into something new.

Anything that someone is working on can [prompt a] turn to art.

The biggest barrier to trying art is being afraid that we won't be good at it.

MD: Does art as therapeutic, diagnostic, interventional or promotional health tool appear to be more effective with one than another group of people? For example, is propensity or sensitivity to art as a healing mechanism, or religious belief, or sense of spirituality essential? How might attitude toward art-making affect whether or how we engage it, receive its benefits, understand its outcomes?

LW: There isn't enough research to answer these questions adequately. These are some of the questions I hope to answer in my work.

I do  think that if one has a negative attitude toward any intervention it is unlikely to work well.

I have a word of caution on the use of art for healing. I have found examples of art having a negative effect. Some people use the creative process to cycle continually through a negative event without using the opportunity to change their perception or vision of how the future could be. This is where I see the need for a nurse or other guide to assist the patient-artist to use the art [transformatively], to change perception and grow.

MD: What, if any, forms of art-making (poetry-writing, music performance, painting, etc.) seem to be most beneficial to which groups of creators (adults, children)?

LW: Again, this is an area [where there has been] very little research. I think the most important thing is that the art be a type that resonates with the person. ([For example,] I know that at the VA, the most popular type of art-making is leather-making. It must attract the men for some reason.

MD: Are art's beneficial effects largely anecdotal, then, or can they be measured and quantified? What have you observed since your own "mapping" of self with art? Are any of those observations applicable universally?

LW: Art's beneficial effects have been largely anecdotal, though a start has been made on more scientific (qualitative and quantitative) measurements. Part of the problem [in much of scientific research] is lack of capability to model or measure whole-person changes. It's a problem shared in research in all complementary or alternative therapies. The issue isn't, does art have an effect or not, but do we have enough understanding of people as a complex system to understand the effects of art?

For me, creating art allows me to express negative emotion — and then to experience positive emotions from the creative process. I also use the process to change my perceptions of [my] current situation and to envision different future outcomes. This may be what is behind studies showing that people who create art have a more positive outlook on life and are more able to engage in the work of their life stage, including saying goodbye at the end of life.

The area is so open to research that I can't give definitive answers to these wonderful questions. My research career is starting at a time when practitioners who use art know [intuitively] it works but [acknowledge] there is real work to be done in defining the benefits and understanding the process.

MD: What is your favorite story about being witness to art's healing effects?

LW: Well, I am a hospital nurse and an academic. I have research articles I could quote but I can't give you a patient-using-art story because I'm not a clinician in this area at this time. I have, however, done a number of art projects at conferences. I particularly like the communal weaving project I did for a church and for an AHNA conference; working on one project together was a community-building experience.

MD: When you speak in public, do you share your personal experience of how art helped you? What one detail or piece of information do you never leave out?

LW: I do share my experience of how art helped me. For me, the value of my art is not just [to show] what the finished product looks like but [to communicate] what I learned and how [my art-making] helped me. It energizes me to have a group share that experience with me; it is extremely personal [and, for that reason,] I don't think people forget my presentations.

One thing I never leave out is how the process of creating art is a dialogue between the artist and the piece of art. The piece has its own life and will talk back to you, if you will listen.

Lisa Wayman is the author of "Walking with Persephone: A Journey Toward Healing" in Creativity and Madness: Psychological Studies of Art and Artists, Vol. 2 (Barry M. Panter, Ed.; Manipal, India: American Institute of Medical Education Press, 2009), available through Creativity and Madness. She also contributed the chapter "The Art of Survival" to The Art of Grief: The Use of Expressive Arts in a Grief Support Group (J. Earl Rogers, Ed.; New York: Routledge, 2007). Lisa's paintings may be seen here.

Portions of my interview with Lisa first appeared at the T.S. Poetry Press blog (go here).

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Interview with Holistic Nurse Lisa Wayman, Pt. 1

She Turns to Art to Healing:
Interview with Holistic Nurse Lisa Wayman, Part 1

Registered nurse Lisa Wayman is board-certified in advanced holistic nursing, which, in simplest terms, is a relationship-based way to care for the ill that is grounded in the philosophy that a patient becomes well when the whole person — body, mind, spirit — is treated and healed. In practice, a holistic nurse "partners" with a patient to facilitate healing and wellness.

Wayman also is an artist with a special interest in art's role in improving patient outcomes. Currently, she is pursuing studies in how art can promote whole-person healing and resilience. She herself has had first-hand experience: She turned to painting when her young son Joseph became ill in 1996 with the cancer that eventually claimed his life two years later. Wayman's art-making, she believes, was a means to care for her soul during a period of intense grief.

In a candid interview by e-mail, Wayman spoke with me about her professional pursuits and interests and her own experience using art to respond to and transform suffering and loss. Part 2 posts tomorrow.

Excerpts from this edited interview appeared earlier at the T.S. Poetry Press blog TweetSpeakPoetry. See the post.

* * * * *

Maureen Doallas: Lisa, how did you become interested in holistic nursing?

Lisa Wayman: As a nursing student, I was really not into holistic nursing. I told myself that I got into nursing because I needed a steady job and to make money. I  think I was embarrassed by the sentimentality of wanting to change people's lives [and] socialized to a part of the profession that valued reasoning and action [over] feeling and connection with patients. I had the fortune of having H. Lea Gaydoes, an American Holistic Nurse Association (AHNA) "Nurse of the Year", as my instructor. She used to say that caring was the essence of nursing. I actually rolled my eyes [at that]. I thought I could be a nurse and help people simply by having good technical skills, and that nursing wouldn't require relationship or a change in who I was.

MD: What changed your mind?

LW: A year of working in the ICU. I got pretty beaten up. ICU is rough, and I was working with my feelings walled off so that I wouldn't be hurt [yet] I talked about it, dreamt about it, and worried about it; the suffering was more than I was prepared for. I just didn't have the self-care skills or the maturity to enter into relationships with my patients and [still be able] to let go. I went to Gaydos and asked for help. She got me started in holistic nursing. I still worked in the ICU but started taking little steps. . . entering into real relationships. Paradoxically, [allowing myself to care more] let me let go of the patients when I went home.

[A] few years later [when] Joe got sick, I learned big lessons in how important the healing relationship is. . . The experience of caring for him while he was ill and dying catalyzed a transformative shift of my consciousness and greatly enlarged my practice. The things I knew in my head about who I was and how to be a nurse. . . moved into my heart and my whole being through caring for Joe.

After he died, I needed to know more, so I went back to school for a master's in holistic nursing.

MD: Tell us about your doctoral studies.

LW: I started my doctoral studies when I realized I wanted to ask in-depth questions about healing and didn't know how to ask or answer questions in a scientific way. I specifically want to study how art works as a healing intervention.

MD: How does art therapy differ from art as healing intervention?

LW: Art therapy is pretty well-defined; the therapist uses art to diagnose and treat psychiatric illness. In art as healing intervention, all kinds of people — nurses, artists, physicians, etc. — use art to promote whole-person healing and resilience.   

I want to study how creating art works to help [promote] resilience, so that practitioners can hone their programs to better meet patient needs.

MD: Where do you anticipate your studies will lead?

LW: I hope to combine clinical practice (working with people creating art) with research (asking and answering questions).

MD: You work as a graduate assistant at the University of Arizona. Is that work directly related to your doctoral studies?

LW: I help coordinate the master's level entry program. I'm working with our clinical partner to build a relationship and fine-tune details of the clinical setting for our students and instructors. I also substitute-teach in clinical instruction and do some classroom teaching. The work is not directly related to my studies.

MD: What led you to choose UA?

LW: I chose UA because it has a strong history of working with holistic nursing and promoting research in whole-person healing. I'm working with Mary Koithan, my chair who is on international committees working in complexity and chaos theory and how it relates to healing. My committee has challenged and supported me [and] my Ph.D. studies have been transformative. I've noticed big changes in how I think and approach health issues. 

MD: You've mentioned "resilience research". What does that entail? How do you define "resilience" and how might the presence of art in our lives affect our ability to be resilient?

LW: That is a really interesting question.

Resilience has been defined as recovery, growth, and transformation. Transformation or, as some call it, transcendence, is  the most resilient response to a stressor. It's a qualitative change in [your sense of] who you are in response to a stressor.

I'm working on a article to model the process of  resilience. I'm looking at concepts of resilience, how the concepts are related, and how the creative process can influence response to stressors to promote transcendence.

MD: What, if any, background in the arts is necessary or recommended to pursue such studies as yours?

LW: [B]uilding expertise in art is important when assisting others in creating art for healing. Part of healing in art [is about] interacting with the product [the artwork]; if the product of art-making doesn't reflect internal processes, the interaction may not be so helpful.

Also, just the discipline of learning how to create is an important lesson. I come to my studies and research goals from a healing perspective. We know that art works; what we don't understand so well are the aspects of healing and the dimensions of the experience leading to healing.

I have presented some small workshops introducing art as a healing intervention but I don't have a clinical practice that involves working regularly with patients creating art. I don't have the experience I need to independently implement art programs for patients but I can partner with more experienced artists and bring the nursing perspective to the team. For me, the goal of creating art for healing is as much about the healing experience as it is about the art.

Tomorrow, in Part 2, Lisa Wayman addresses how she found her way into painting while her son Joe was ill and what insights into herself she has gained through her art-making. She also talks about current research in the beneficial effects of art as an interventional or promotional health tool.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Pull of the Black Hole (Poem)

The pull of the black hole

is what does not escape
where the center holds

wresting the light, bending
shadow in the grip of dust.

The second before disappearance
is never a no return, more

like orbiting that threshold
that calls to you to feel

yourself going inward once
your energy jet's burned.

The void's so hard to explain.

© 2012 Maureen E. Doallas

My inspiration for this poem is the fascinating article "How to Escape From a Black Hole", which appeared in Time Science & Space last month.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Monday Muse Watches Allen Ginsberg

Originally released in 1994, re-released in 2005, and screened at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., in 2010, The Life and Times of Allen Ginsberg, by independent filmmaker and photographer Jerry Aronson, is perhaps the most comprehensive portrait available of the American poet (1926-1997). Aronson collected more than 120 hours of film that incorporates Ginsberg's own readings, significant archival material, and historical interviews with family, friends, contemporaries, and artists who fell under Ginsberg's considerable influence. 

Below is a 20:30-minute excerpt from the fascinating film, which has received more than 250 awards and screenings; toward the end, Ginsberg reads from his celebrated 1956 work Howl. At the film's Website, you'll find interviews with Joan Baez, Hunter S. Thompson, Ken Kesey, Patti Smith, Andy Warhol, and others, as well as links to such "extras" as a video on the making of the documentary and excerpts from a film by Jonas Mekas on Ginsberg's "last three days on Earth as a spirit".

Allen Ginsberg Project Website (Allen Ginsberg Trust)

Allen Ginsberg Interview at The Paris Review, No. 37, Spring 1966

"Beat Memories: The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg", National Gallery of Art, May-September 2010 (A number of excellent resources are available at the link.)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thought for the Day

The difference between the artist and the non-artist
is not a greater capacity for feeling. The secret is that the artist
can objectify, can make apparent the feelings we all have.
~ Martha Graham*

A Dancer's Journal: Martha Graham, Interactive Site at ArtsEdge for 10-18-Year-Olds

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Saturday Sharing (My Finds Are Yours)

If you refrained from feasting on stuffing and turkey and apple pie, today's edition of Saturday Sharing offers you several additional courses, starting off with Baking for Good, where you can turn photos into edible treats. If you're more inclined to sit back and be awed, check out Andre Ermolaev's images of Iceland, the 13th Century church that's now a bookstore, and the new visualization lab at Brown University. If you have any energy left, file an answer to OED Appeals.

✦ Eat your memories! At the online Baking for Good, you can get your photos (up to six per batch) turned into "Snapshot Cookies". Fifteen percent of the net proceeds from every purchase is donated to a cause of your choice. What's better than being charitable while you're enjoying a treat? (My thanks to TED blog for the link.)

✦ Here's an example of creative thinking and reuse: a 13th Century church in the Netherlands is transformed into an 8,000-square-foot bookstore.

✦ These aerial photographs of Iceland by Russian Andre Ermolaev are stunning. See more images here.

✦ In October, Oxford English Dictionary launched OED Appeals, a virtual community space dedicated to collaboration with the public to help OED editors "unearth new information about the history and usage of English." (This blog announcement offers details.) Calls have gone out for help with such phrases as "in your dreams", "to come in from the cold", and "blue-arsed fly" and the words "cooties" and "disco".  I can't wait to read the answers.

Oxford University Press on FaceBook, Twitter, and YouTube

✦ I had a wonderful secondary education but technological resources like the Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab at Brown University didn't exist in my day. The lab offers a surround-sound system and a wall of a dozen 55-inch high-resolution LED screens that make possible interdisciplinary visualization projects and collaborative display and interaction. Also, the university library has launched Curio, a new blog devoted to artifacts valued for their oddness or rarity. It's a delight for the curious among us. (My thanks to The Bigger Picture blog for the link to Curio.)

✦ There are all kinds of ways to get your message out into the world. Artist ETMCA of Los Angeles has the taken the more unusual route of painting a coded poem, "The Ones" (video), then cutting it up (it's spread across 10 canvases) and hiding the fragments in used bookstores around the city. More of the artist's "discovery" projects are here and here. (My thanks to MediaBistro and Page Turner, where I first saw the links to ETMCA's work.)

Friday, November 23, 2012

All Art Friday

All Art Friday

All Art Friday Spotlights

✦ A former industrial designer, Mary Brodbeck specializes in moku hanga, woodblock prints using traditional Japanese methods and materials. See a slideshow of her work here.

✦ Brooklyn painter Cecile Chong uses mixed media (e.g., skateboards) in her Asian-inspired encaustics.

James Welling has reimagined Andrew Wyeth in a series of archival inkjet prints, shown earlier this year at The Wadsworth Atheneum. Explore his substantial photographic work here and here. David Zwirner recently exhibited a selection of Welling's gelatin silver prints from Frolic Architecture, a collaborative project with poet Susan Howe. I particularly like Welling's Torsos and his documentary work.

"James Welling: Wyeth" at The Wadsworth Antheneum

Welling Interview at The Wadsworth

"Welling on Wyeth" at Art in America 

✦ Thanks to private donations and a partnership with the University of Michigan Museum of Art, C.S. Mott Children's Hospital and Von Voigtlander Women's Hospital, Ann Arbor, Michigan, are the beneficiaries, along with patients, of an art collection valued at $1.8 million. Representing 50 artists, 31 of whom were educated, born in, or have lived in Michigan, the collection comprises 241 artworks. Mott patients also are the recipients of the Art Cart service of the U-M Health System's Gifts of Art program.

✦ British potter Lisa Hammond, whose gorgeous ceramics are the subject of an online exhibition at Goldmark Gallery, talks about her fascination with Asian pottery and her use of the Japanese shino glaze.

Exhibitions Here and There

✭ For the third installment of its biennial Women to Watch series, the National Museum of Women in the Arts is presenting "High Fiber". Focused on artists from states and countries where NMWA has outreach committees, the exhibition features Ligia Bouton, Debra Folz, Louise Halsey, Tracy Krumm, Beili Liu, Rachael Matthews, and Laure Tixier (see her plaid houses; other images here). Themes of nature, history, and making are realized in stitchery, weaving, knitting, crocheting, and fiber-like materials. Included are textiles, sculptures, and installations. The show is on view through January 6, 2013.

NMWA on FaceBook and Twitter

✭ Watercolors, photographs, music recordings, and video are included in "John Cage: The Sight of Silence", on view until January 11 at National Academy Museum & School of Fine Arts, New York City. Most of the 60 works Cage created in the 1980s and 1990 during residencies at Mountain Lake Workshop in Virginia. Go here for remaining "Chance Encounters" readings, art talks, and dance and musical performances related to Cage and the exhibition.

NAMS on FaceBook and Twitter

✭ Haitian visual artists' arresting responses to political coups, the devastation of earthquakes and hurricanes, epidemics, and general tumult and instability nationwide are the subject of "In Extremis: Death and Life in 21st Century Haitian Art" at Fowler Museum at UCLA. The exhibition, on view through January 20, presents some 70 mixed media works, including metal sculpture, beaded and sequined textiles, paintings, prints, and site-specific installations. (Installation views are available at the link.) Accompanying the show is a 196-page catalogue with 182 illustrations and essays by Edwidge Danticat, Leah Gordon, Claudine Michel, and others.

Selection of Exhibition Images (pdf)

Fowler Museum on FaceBook and Twitter

Save the Date

✭ An exhibition of the work of graphic designer Paula Scher and internationally renowned illustrator Seymour Chwast opens December 2 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Running through April 14, "Double Portrait" brings the couple's work together for the first time; the artists collaborated both on the selection and installation of more than 150 graphics that appear in numerous formats, from magazine and record album covers, posters, and typefaces, to trademarks and videos. Included is Chwast's anti-war posters End Bad Breath (1967), now in the museum's collection (see image), and War is Good Business: Invest Your Son (1967), and Scher's posters for New York's Public Theatre, including Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk (1995).

In 1985, Chwast was awarded an AIGA Medal (profile here) from the American Institute of Graphic Arts. He is a member of the Art Directors Club Hall of Fame. His work is found in many museum collections. Scher also is a painter and art educator in design, and a partner at Pentagram. Her extraordinary MAPS series, featuring both paintings and screenprints, appeared this past winter at Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery, New York. She also is an AIGA Medalist (2001) and a member of the Art Directors Club Hall of Fame. Her work, like Chwast's, is exhibited around the  world and widely collected.

PMA on FaceBookTwitter, and Tumblr

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Called to Thanksgiving (Poem)

Called to Thanksgiving

     for my brother

With your body laid down,
we begin the unforgiving

pattern of forgetting what
we cannot hold before us.

We re-run the memories
time disfigures then re-cuts:

a silhouette cannot contain
the whole of you, who you

were before your final hour,
quieting just as the sun was

rising to the point of the day.
Our fingers numb as we patch

through old albums for clues
to the flesh the blood the bone,

we find and lose our faith
in answers, still want for praise

of the priest once more calling
us to our own thanksgiving.

© 2012 Maureen E. Doallas

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Art of Saying 'No'

In her installation commemorating 100 years of Islamic art in Europe, Bahia Shehab, a Lebanese-Egyptian artist and art historian, discovered there is art in saying "No". In her brief TEDTalk below, Shehab talks about how she went from creating A Thousand Times No to stenciling the letterform lam-alif (Arabic for "No") on the walls and in the streets of Cairo.


"Fellows Friday with Bahia Shehab", Interview, TED, September 7, 2012

Bahia Shehab, A Thousand Times NO: The Visual History of Lam-Alif, Khatt Books, 2010

After listening to Shehab's talk, I composed the following poem:


NO is a thousand times two letters

cast in the shards of a pharoh's bust,
printed in the embers of burning books,
aimed like bullets at Cairo's walls,
exposed in the blue a woman's curves fit.

Let the word escape your mouth, then stitch it
in the veils your Arab spring lifts.

A thousand times two letters repeated NO,

© 2012 Maureen E. Doallas

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Couple (Poem)


The sea coughs
up hooks the fisher
takes home.

The wife swallows
one barb, wears another
in each ear.

Night pours a shade
of ink between them,
blackening his mouth,

and hers. Moss fills in
the spaces in their bed
where flowers refuse

to bloom, cushions give
and take. At sea next
day, he cleans his tongue

in the brine of conchs.
She spirals and empties
the echoes in her heart.

© 2012 Maureen E. Doallas

I'd love to see someone render this in paint or animation.

This month, the theme at TweetSpeakPoetry and Every Day Poems is surrealism. Today's poem is my offering on that theme. I've written several others that you'll find in the Comments section of these posts: 

✦ "Cortege" in the comments section of Casting a Line for Surrealist Poetry (November 12)

✦ "Dressed to Kill" in the comments section of November Surrealism: The Treachery of Images (November 12)

✦ "The Dilemma of Dolls" in the comments section of November Surrealism Poetry Prompt (November 5)

Anyone may participate in these prompts. Please join us! The themes change monthly.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Monday Muse on The Big Picture

. . . [I]t's better for people to understand what I have
than . . . be left in the dark, and then be left
 to make up their own conclusion. . . .
~ Dylan Redford

Alexander Graham Bell. Albert Einstein. Thomas Edison. Leonardo da Vinci. Richard Branson. Cher. Charles Schwab. David Boies. Steven Spielberg. Mozart. Magic Johnson. George Patton. Hans Christian Anderson. Nelson Rockefeller. Andy Warhol. Whoopi Goldberg.* 

What do all of the above-named, all well-known people, have in common? Dsylexia, which the U.S. National Library of Medicine defines here as a  developmental reading difficulty "that occurs when the brain does not properly recognize and process certain symbols."

It is estimated that one in 10 people (as many as 10 million children in the United States alone) experience dyslexia, which does not discriminate. As the list of just those few names above shows, anyone — inventor, scientist, business entrepreneur, artist, filmmaker, athlete, financier, politician, actor, legal professional, composer or musician, writer, military leader, anyone, regardless of ethnicity, socioeconomic status, geographic region, or level of intelligence — may experience this language-based learning problem and have difficulty recognizing and sounding letters, reading fluently, spelling accurately, or memorizing number facts.

Director James Redford has first-hand knowledge of the issue, and when given what he calls "the extraordinary opportunity" to make a film about the subject, he made "the movie I wish my family could have seen. . . ." His new film The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia is about his son Dylan's experience as a dyslexic; it is a story about understanding dyslexia. It shows not only how his son struggled daily but also how with proper diagnosis and intervention, learning loss can be overcome and self-esteem and confidence regained. As he points out in his Director's Statement, "[W]e are not alone in this; . . . [and] we hope that a broader and better understanding of dyslexia will help make the world a better place" for those affected.

A selection of the 2012 Sun Dance Film Festival and more than a half-dozen other film festivals across the country, the movie was shown on HBO in late October, during National Dyslexia Awareness Month. It's an important documentary that helps reframe perspectives on and discussions of dyslexia. If you're among those who want to further promote awareness, education, and understanding of dyslexia, take a look at these five action steps and let others know about the film.

Here's the trailer for The Big Picture. Go here for information to help find or host screenings.

The Big Picture on FaceBook


* This List of Famous People with Dyslexia contains some of the names provided.

50 Interesting Facts About Dyslexia

American Dyslexia Association

Davis Dyslexia Association International

Eye to Eye

International Dyslexia Association (The IDA's factsheets are here.)

Learning Ally

National Center for Learning Disabilities

Reading from Scratch

Yale Center for Dyslexia

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Squall (Poem)


    after Andrew Wyeth's Squall


It's summer:
she never thinks
to take her yellow raincoat,

always leaves me
wondering how she'll track
incautious sloops in sudden storms.


Today, I read her signals
without needing to search
our tangled clothed-less lines.


Already, I've recounted
every stone we've lifted,
re-set to mark our way.


Undressed, the window
always mirrors the chill
we fight to hold inside.


Heat rushes from the open kitchen door.

© 2012 Maureen E. Doallas

Today's photo prompt at Magpie Tales is Andrew Wyeth's Squall, painted in 1986 on Maine's Southern Island.

Go here to read other poets' contributions or to add your own.

Thought for the Day

A story must be told in such a way
that it constitutes help in itself. . . .
~ Martin Buber

* Quoted in Maurice Friedman, Martin Buber's Life and Work (Wayne State University Press, 1988)

Martin Buber (1878-1965), Jewish Philosopher, Theologian, Bible Translator, Editor

Jewish Virtual Library Profile 

Obituary, The New York Times, June 14, 1965

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Saturday Sharing (My Finds Are Yours)

This week's edition of Saturday Sharing puts a foot in the past, exploring Wonders & Marvels, the custom hand-made, David Foster Wallace's archives, Einstein's brain, The Museum of Ridiculously Interesting Things, and one of the last remaining typewriter-repair shops.

✦ A recently released iPad app lets you explore digitally Albert Einstein's brain. Read Liat Clark's article "Einstein's Brain Goes Digital With iPad App" (Wired Magazine, September 25, 2012) for background on the unauthorized removal of Einstein's brain during a 1955 autopsy.

Einstein Papers Project at California Institute of Technology

✦ If you yearn for something hand- or custom-made, Makeably is for you. Started by two friends who'd met at Penn, Makeably describes itself as "a marketplace for custom-made creative items for your everyday living, made uniquely for you." A similar site is the four-step Custom Made. (My thanks to Curator magazine for the links.)

✦ The archive of the late novelist David Foster Wallace resides at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin. This past September the Ransom Center opened archival materials relating to the posthumous novel The Pale King to researchers. A preview is available online

D.T. Max, "D.F.W.'s 'Pale King' Archive, Now Open", The New Yorker, September 28, 2012

✦ The online collection and discussion of art, objects, ideas, and history is aptly named The Museum of Ridiculously Interesting Things

✦ Curious about stories of the past? If you're a history geek or just like a good read, you'll appreciate Wonders & Marvels.

Wonders & Marvels on FaceBook and Twitter

✦ Those of us of a certain age can recall without effort having to prepare our school papers on non-self-correcting typewriters, the kind Jesse Flores, the subject of this segment from the series A Different LA (ADLA), spent decades repairing. Flores died in 2011, and his son Ruben Flores inherited the business. Now in its 50th year, it's one of the oldest businesses in its neighborhood and one of the few remaining typewriter-repair shops in Highland Park, California. 


Friday, November 16, 2012

All Art Friday

All Art Friday

All Art Friday Spotlights

✦ Glass artist Judith Finn Conway's Chesapeake Waters, abstracted images of the waters of the Chesapeake Bay, are unique and beautiful. Currently, she is at work on a planned 10-piece series Canal du Midi, inspired by a week-long barge trip in southern France. Her Narbonne from the series is available online through Arts Afire Glass Gallery.

✦ Current Arlington Arts Center resident artist Alice Whealin, whose show of recent works at McLean Project for the Arts, McLean, Virginia, closed November 3, draws and paints with ink on acetate, duralar, mylar, and polyester film. Her layered, abstract work resembles cellular, networked structures that play with light and shadows. See some of her work in this video and at ArtFile.

✦ The New York City-based nonprofit Art Resources Transfer established Distribution to Underserved Communities Library Program to provide free of charge books on contemporary art and culture to rural and inner-city public schools, libraries, prisons, and alternative reading centers. (A video about DUC may be seen here.) To date, some 300,000 free art books have been made available through DUC. To celebrate the donation of the 300,000th book, John Baldessari created a commemorative print Double Play: Never Swat a Fly in an edition of 75. See an image of the archival inkjet print here.

✦ Ceramists and collectors of ceramics will enjoy Interpreting Ceramics, an international, refereed e-journal.

✦ New York City's New Museum has launched a monthly series "First Look: New Art Online". Its second online-only presentation was "3D-Form", comprising four experimental animations from Aboveground Animation.

New Museum on FaceBook and Twitter

✦ Ink stamps are essential to Federico Pietrella's pointillist artworks, each of which can take up to two months to create. (My thanks to This is Colossal and The Bigger Picture for the video link.)

Exhibitions Here and There

✭ Portraits by French artist Edouard Manet are on display through January 1, 2013, at Toledo Museum of Art, the sole venue in North America for the exhibition "Manet: Portraying Life". On view are approximately 40 paintings, as well as photographs, from both museums and private collections. Tickets, available online and onsite, are required to see the show. In this video,  curator Larry Nichols talks about the exhibition:

Selection of Exhibition Images

Manet Biography (pdf)

TAM on FaceBook, Twitter, and YouTube

✭ Sculptures by internationally known fiber artist Ted Hallman are on show at the James A. Michener Art Museum, Doylestown, Pennsylvania, through March 3, 2013. The work in "Suspended Harmonies" consists of acrylic yarns, wool, and rayon suspended from steel armatures, as well as a selection of "invented wall pieces". Hallman is the subject of a recent American Craft Council profile. Also see the feature article "Lederach Artist Ted Hallman Weaves New World Through Art" (October 2011), which includes a video interview with the artist.

Hallman on FiberArts: "Labyrinths in Fiber" (Images)

Michener Art Museum on FaceBook, Twitter, and YouTube

Michener Art Museum Blog, MUSEum

✭ In New York City, the Museum of Arts and Design is featuring the work of Daniel Brush in "Blue Steel Gold Light", on view through February 17, 2013. Included in the important exhibition are beautiful examples of Brush's steel and gold tablet and wall sculptures, granulated jewelry, paintings, and sculptures of Bakelite, aluminum, steel, and precious gems. The show of four decades of art-making covers the museum's entire second floor. An illustrated four-color monograph, designed by Takaaki Matsumoto with an introduction by Oliver Sacks and essays by Saskia Hamilton, among others, accompanies the show, which is the first to examine the depth and breadth of the artist's career. Brush's work is meticulous and exceptional; some of his smallest pieces take as many as 1,000 hours to complete because the gold granules are applied with a single-hair brush.

Daniel Brush Monograph Gold Without Boundaries (Harry N. Abrams)

"Daniel Brush Exhibit Set for Museum of Arts and Design", Broadway World, May 8, 2012

"An Artist's Inspiration", Interview with Daniel Brush, CBS Sunday Morning, February 11, 2009

Daniel Brush Profile at Lannan Foundation

Studio Visit with Daniel Brush in Metalsmith Magazine, Winter 2002

MAD Museum on FaceBook, Twitter, YouTube

MAD Museum Blog

✭ The statewide competition "Wisconsin Photography 2012" at Racine Art Museum showcases the work of 50 Wisconsin photographers. The juried exhibition of 118 works, which remain on view until November 24, includes silver gelatin, digital inkjet prints, DVDs, and mixed media. A list of the photographers and their works is in this exhibition catalogue (pdf); some images are included.

RAM on FaceBook

RAM Blog

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Grass Lives, Stones Wear (Poem)

Grass Lives, Stones Wear

Acid in his ears
did not block

their cries
nor the keening

of rain and sirens.
He hears now

with one ear all
the dead lamenting

their fate. War
leaned his face

to the cemetery,
showing Ko Un

the grass lives
while stones wear

the names
his poems replace.

Ten thousand lives
he carries within;

in the cell of his
mind, with its light

preventing sleep,
he scans and scrolls:

fishers and lovers,

and a madwoman,
liars and the blind

family, thieves
and a village idiot

and the butcher
and traveling salesman

and the war's just
injured and corpses—

all collected. So many
songs never come

back, need another
breath to be finished.

His heart hurts
the way the sea is

wrapping itself

in black binding
thread to constrict

the space between
writing the moments

here, on this side
of time, and writing

them there with his eyes
never closing.

© 2012 Maureen E. Doallas

This poem is inspired by the life of the extraordinary Korean poet Ko Un, who has published more than 150 poetry collections. This month Bloodaxe Books has released First Person Sorrowful, a collection of Ko Un's poetry that is the first British edition of his work.

My poem references Ko Un's books Maninbo (Ten Thousand Lives) [see Amazon edition], comprising 30 volumes, and This Side of Time: Poems (White Pine Press, 2012).

For information about Ko Un, see the articles "Ko Un's First Person Sorrowful Offers a Window Into an Extraordinary Life" (The Guardian, November 8, 2012), "Poet of Wonders" (The New York Review of Books, November 3, 2005), and "The Art and Life of Korean Poet Ko Un: Cross-Cultural Communication" (The Asia-Pacific Journal). A selection of translations by Brother Anthony of Taize is included in the latter. Also see Ko Un at The Poetry Center at Smith College. In 2008, Ko Un was presented with the Lifetime Recognition Award of The Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Love Your Way Through (Poem)

Love Your Way Through

You can't imagine dressing
in grey anymore than you can

measure the clarity of the day
you woke to the call bringing

loss. The color of the diamond
you still wear, the way it cuts

the intensity of the light falling
on it into hues you cannot name,

mime the spectrum of feelings
that want to change in the course

of the day. You wager your odds
of taking vows again, of refilling

the space between wide-open sky
and too many pitch-black clouds.

Once on the edge time split into
being with and being without you

hold a finger to the air, eager to test
in which direction to turn to explain

how to love your way through this.

© 2012 Maureen E. Doallas

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Breezy Point (Poem)

Breezy Point

    Queens, New York, November 2012

In the storm's surge
at high tide, fire jumps,

finishing what water
began. The burn blisters

in its new slip of snow,
and a smell of gas rises

from the debris field.
Siding has melted into alleys

of sand that slows
the picking up, the moving


You can't get to Liberty
from here now; the torch

is dark where there is
no safe harbor.

Wind has taken to sea
what remains,

and what remains is
no longer a house, no

more a home. Search it,
knowing this is it:

a heart-shaped photo
in a floating crypt,

cutlery fused to its wire
basket, soaked rugs,

spoiled food, pumps
snaking passageways

amid black mold bidding
to control the sheetrock,

and a slab of wood
urging a day at a time

to figure a way back in.

A Virgin Mary still stands
somewhere on Far Rockaway
peninsula, her arms open,

welcoming the people

with their cats and dogs
and birds, these pilgrims
with candles and hymn books

and cell phones.

Come Lent,
there will be more —

more ashes, more water
and the sounds going in
and out of the tunnels —

and Irish-Americans with nothing
will stand elbow to elbow, pass

from hand to hand the extra
collection plate: for every dollar,

a prayer, the sign of the cross.

Later, it will be the sky,
and the sand and the water,
and these again

that will deliver.

© 2012 Maureen E. Doallas

Monday, November 12, 2012

Monday Muse Reads 'The Wishing Tomb'

Every city has its history. New Orleans contains its history in its stories, sometimes tellings of great pain and suffering, and in the vivid and memorable new collection of poems The Wishing Tomb (Perugia Press, 2012) by Amanda Auchter, those stories can leave you aching, even as they spiral  with enchantment.

The Wishing Tomb is Auchter's second full collection (she's also published The Glass Crib and a chapbook Light Under Skin) but the first by the author I've read. What I find remarkable about the 50 poems is how the story in each, no matter how far back the poet reaches, seems unfixed in time, as if rendered by some magic to feel new again. This is the mark of a storyteller in love with her rough-and-tumble subject. Not only does the poet frequently take on the voice of her characters, embodying the narrative arc of the "I" in personal perspective and feeling, but she also clearly delineates the protagonist of the entire collection, which is, of course, water: the lure of it, its essentiality, its defiance of our efforts to harness it, its potential to become a ferocious tool of nature that quickly will slam us down when we go beyond what we think we control. In water lies the personification of New Orleans. It is New Orleans's witness.

The collection is divided into three unnamed but numbered sections that serve mostly as a means to order New Orleans's long, messy, and often violent history, beginning before its founding and stretching to a period post-Katrina. While one certainly may read from The Wishing Tomb at random, the cumulative power of the collection derives from reading it beginning to end. The accessibility of the poems, the variance of the stories, the colorful cast of the city's denizens all make for an overall strong collection. While the poems work together beautifully to create a complete portrait of New Orleans, reading all of them straight through does point up instances where an image becomes somewhat overworked, too similar to its first appearance to restartle the senses anew (for example, the uses of the words "tongue" to describe an aspect of water or the description of musical notes as "decanted") but this is a minor quibble. Auchter is skillful in taking advantage of her knowledge of southern flora and fauna to craft often-stunning lines.

The opening poem, "Letter to Comte de Pontchartrain, December, 1697", is striking, putting that protagonist water front and center:

The question is water, how to shadow // this slow tongue that collects // in hill and dale, wild cattle. To build / a city made of birds, cotton, rain- // lit houses. . . .

Auchter employs imagery familiar to anyone who's traveled to or stayed any time in New Orleans; she beautifully evokes the place where you "sweat / at midnight, your body a seething // sea." ("Letter"); where ". . . the bone-pale hours keep // the broken down / broken down: // a sugar-mouthed girl / on Esplanade with a man in her throat, / a blade in her shoe. . . ." ("The Chicken Man Walks the Quarter"); where "sugared air // . . . seeps its way through / the streets. The scrolled iron balconies, / banana-leaved courtyards, gas lamps draped // with bright plastic beads. . . ." ("The City That Care Forgot") and "Inside the ceramic city a man // decants a few notes on a sax / under the black and white / Bourbon Street sign. . . ." ("New Orleans Snow Globe"). This is a city that even as it lives and breathes, it's dying a little, defiant and holding on.

Auchter writes with a lyricism absent from much contemporary poetry. Some of the poems are wonderful to read aloud. Auchter's details are concrete, and it is these details that invest so many of her poems with a sense of deep and genuine feeling for the city and its inhabitants, past and present. When she writes, "They have been known // to make a man disappear. They will call you / coon and boy." ("A Brief History with Documents"), you know that New Orleans, for all its savage Southern beauty, is to be feared. When she exhorts, "Tell me how to speak to suffering, where / to toss the slivers of a body already broken." ("Wind Prayer"), you understand the necessary modulation of emotion, how prayer becomes as evanescent as the wind that carries it and forces you to your knees. When she admits, while visiting and touring by bus, that ". . . Part of me wants to see // the weight of so much disaster. . . Part of me / wants to . . . walk away." ("Gray Line Katrina Tours"), you get the fascination with death and destruction even as you abhor yourself for being "no better at this" game of taking in the road-kill. You hear that tune of "a trumpet's brassed mourn" ("Jazz Funeral"). It leaves you changed.

The threat potential always working the underside of New Orleans is one part of the poetry. The other is a heady combination of the mystery and the romance of the place, and, here again, Auchter uses pitch-perfect details to evoke a city of many faces: ". . . the ruin // of the cracked porch, the swampy stink of summer / in my hair, the coffee and fried dough, and yes, even / the palmetto bugs that hid just under the window." ("Why New Orleans"); the cemetery with its "blue vase filled // with artificial tulips, rosary beads, a note folded / and folded." ("Holt Cemetery"); that flirtation with love spells and Vodou, when "Every night, women come with baskets / of fruit, rosaries, clippings of their own dark // braids. Leave candy, . . . ("The Wishing Tomb"); and, not least, the determined spirit with which the city's inhabitants wake every morning ". . . to return to the light in the cypress, the mangrove, oxgrass. The stirring / of seabirds rising, rising." ("Late Pastoral").

There are poems in The Wishing Tomb that speak to the city's too-frequent suffering — "American Plague", "The Good Friday Flood, 1927", "Billion-Dollar Betsy", "Fragments of an Aftermath" — or that revive feelings of outrage — "A Brief History With Documents", "Highway Pastoral". And there are poems that are quite moving: "Mourning Brooch and Earrings, c. 1866", "Decorating the Tombs: All Saints' Day", "The Education of Ruby Bridges, 1960", "Creole Tomatoes", "Why New Orleans". Auchter can put a reader who came of age during the periods addressed in the poems right back in that particular time and place.

And then, there, too, are the poems about that ever-present water that structures and defines New Orleans, is both its life- and death force:

 . . . Everywhere // it is dark: loose leaves, // forest. The water / arrives exhausted, climbs // the lowlands and marshweed. We will want // to close its wide mouth, bring boats. . . // . . . Let the water / rise and wash / through the streets. Let the wind fill each breath, each dry throat." ("Letter to Comte de Pontchartrain").

This is a collection to read and consider, savor, and then read again.

A selection including some of the poems I mention above is here. The Wishing Tomb was awarded the 2012 Perugia Press Prize for a First or Second Book of Poetry by a Woman.

Amanda Auchter is founding editor of Pebble Lake Review. Her first full-length collection The Glass Crib (Zone 3 Press, 2011) was awarded the 2010 Zone 3 Press First Book Award. Her chapbook, published by Finishing Line Press in 2006, is available through resellers. Auchter is the recipient of a number of poetry prizes, including a Marica and Jan Vilcek Prize for Poetry (Bellevue Literary Review) and a James Wright Poetry Award (Mid-American Review). She holds a master's in fine arts from Bennington Writing Seminars and teaches creative writing and literature at Lone Star College, Houston, Texas.

Auchter on FaceBook and Twitter

Auchter's Blog