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Charlotte museum awarded NEA grant

17 Apr

Compiled by Bernie Petit
Communications Manager

A Charlotte museum has been awarded an Art Works grants from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) as part of the second half of its fiscal year 2014 funding.

ImageThe Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture will receive one of the coveted Art Works grants, which support the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence: public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts, and enhancing the livability of communities through the arts.

The Gantt Center will receive $40,000 to support a digital plan for the John & Vivian Hewitt Collection of African-American Art. The collection includes 78 two-dimensional works by 20th-century African-American artists such as Romare Bearden, Margaret Burroughs, Jonathan Green, Jacob Lawrence, Elizabeth Catlett, Ann Tanksley and Henry Tanner. The project will include expanding the interactive capabilities of the website and improving image and video streaming quality to make the collection widely available.

McColl Center for Visual Art, North Carolina Dance Theatre and Opera Carolina previously received a combined $42,500 in Art Works awards during the NEA’s first round of grants for 2014.
For every dollar invested by the NEA, grantee organizations raise an additional $9 in support from other, non-federal sources.

“We know that arts and culture play an important role in our nation’s economy, with the most recent numbers showing the sector comprising more than 3.2 percent – or $504 billion – of GDP,” said NEA Acting Chairman Joan Shigekawa. “The NEA is proud to support the nation’s nonprofit organizations which are an integral part of the arts and cultural sector. These NEA-supported projects will not only have a positive impact on local economies, but will also provide opportunities for people of all ages to participate in the arts, help our communities to become more vibrant, and support our nation’s artists as they contribute to our cultural landscape.”

ASC provides needed cultural experiences for students

10 Apr

By Bernie Petit
Communications Manager 

Allen Tate - School Grants ProgramPutting cultural experiences in all Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools gives students a greater chance at success.

Ensuring such parity exists across schools regardless of student population is the goal of the Arts & Science Council (ASC) Education School Grants program, which provides up to $285,000 in total funding to local schools for cultural programming.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools are eligible for $1,500 to $3,000 each. Schools spend their funds directly on cultural programming that aligns with their specialized learning environments and helps increase student success in a particular subject matter.

Before the school grants program began last year, only 83 Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools received in-school cultural programming provided by professional artists, scientists, historians and other cultural providers the previous year.

In the first year, 154 of 159 CMS schools participated, resulting in cultural opportunities for students that wouldn’t have access to them any other way.

ASC is you and me making a real difference in a child’s life – one that makes success more likely than ever before.

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ASC helps theatre reach all generations

4 Apr

By Bernie Petit
Communications Manager

The Arts & Science Council (ASC) supports Matthews Playhouse and its mission through a Cultural & Community Investment grant.

The Arts & Science Council (ASC) supports Matthews Playhouse and its mission through a Cultural & Community Investment grant.

A funny thing happened when Matthews Playhouse of the Performing Arts began offering productions for kids nearly 20 years ago.

Adults wanted to play, too.

So the playhouse expanded to give adults in southern Mecklenburg opportunities to shine.

“We try to be a big arts presence in Matthews,” said playhouse representative Melisa Verch. “They love the arts here and we try to be a big venue for that.”

It’s why more than 6,000 students will see a Matthews Playhouse performance with their school this season.

“Introducing them to live theatre is important,” Verch said. “It helps their favorite books come to life, it sparks their imagination and it creates a love of the arts.”

The Arts & Science Council (ASC) supports Matthews Playhouse and its mission through a Cultural & Community Investment grant.

“A grant from ASC,” Verch said, “helps us to do things just a little bit better than maybe we would have otherwise.”

ASC supports our entire community.  Its impact reaches all corners of Charlotte-Mecklenburg, and Matthews Playhouse’s multi-generational cultural experiences are further proof that everyone benefits.  ASC is you and me.

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Spring festivals provide outdoor cultural experiences

4 Apr

By Bernie Petit
Communications Manager

If you’re looking for something to do outside in the coming weeks, you’re in luck.

The arrival of spring means outdoor festival season is upon us, and the Arts & Science Council (ASC) is helping give families across our community plenty to look forward to this season.

ASC supports festivals throughout the year primarily through Town Initiative Grants and Cultural Festival Grants, which increase access to arts, science, history and heritage offerings and strengthen the quality of cultural programming in neighborhoods and towns throughout Mecklenburg County.

Several of festivals supported by ASC take place in the spring, when the warm weather and longer days beckon us outside after the cold and gloom of winter.

Here’s a look at five festivals taking place in April and May you won’t want to miss. Admission is free unless noted.

Charlotte World Parade and Festival.

Charlotte World Parade and Festival.

CHARLOTTE WORLD PARADE AND FESTIVAL

When: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. April 26.

Where: Freedom Park, 1900 East Blvd., Charlotte.

What’s Happening: The hometown multicultural and international event celebrating all cultures in North Carolina starts with a Parade of Nations, an authentic exploration of cultures showcasing more than 45 countries from all over the world with vibrant, colorful, native dresses. The festival includes a variety of live cultural entertainment all day, as well as cultural displays and interactive exhibits, and international crafts and food.

Details: http://worldparadefestival.org/

Kings Drive Art Walk.

Kings Drive Art Walk.

KINGS DRIVE ART WALK

When: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. April 26 and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. April 27.

Where: Little Sugar Creek Greenway on Kings Drive, 600 South Kings Dr., Charlotte.

What’s Happening: Presented by Festival in the Park, the annual event focuses on fine and emerging artists. Nearly 80 artists, ranging from clay and metal to mixed media and painting, will have their work on display and available for purchase. There will also be a jazz music stage both days.

Details: http://www.charlottecultureguide.com/event/detail/441674387/Kings_Drive_Art_Walk_2014

Art on the Green.

Art on the Green.

ART ON THE GREEN

When: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. April 26 and noon-4 p.m. April 27.

Where: Main Street and town green in downtown Davidson.

What’s Happening: North Mecklenburg’s largest annual art festival brings thousands of people to Davidson to enjoy art, live music and food. The juried art festival features booths filled with art works from artists throughout the region. The weekend also includes musical performances by a variety of local talents and a host of food choices from on-site vendors and area restaurants.

Details: http://nc-davidson2.civicplus.com/index.aspx?nid=657

Hello Huntersville Festival.

Hello Huntersville Festival.

HELLO HUNTERSVILLE FESTIVAL

When: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. May 10.

Where: Downtown Huntersville.

What’s Happening:  Huntersville’s annual music and arts festival will feature regional artists, live music, chalk drawing demonstrations, local restaurants and food trucks, arts and crafts vendors, children’s rides and activities and more.

Details: http://www.huntersville.org/Departments/ParksRecreation.aspx

Romare Bearden Park.

Romare Bearden Park.

ROMARE FEST

When: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. May 3 and noon-4 p.m. May 4.

Where: Romare Bearden Park, 300 S. Church St., Charlotte.

What’s Happening: The inaugural Romare Fest at Romare Bearden Park will feature performances from regional artists, art, children’s activities and more.

Details: http://www.charlottecultureguide.com/event/detail/441823728/Romare_Fest_

*Romare Fest is not supported through an ASC Cultural Project Grant or Town Initiative Grant; ASC hired Seattle artist Norie Sato to work with Charlotte-based LandDesign to integrate themes from Charlotte-born artist Romare Bearden’s work in the park, which opened last year.

Differences Dissolve Through the Arts

4 Apr

By Bernie Petit
Communications Manager

CPCC presents Dances of India at 4 p.m. April 26 on campus at Halton Theater.

CPCC presents Dances of India at 4 p.m. April 26 on campus at Halton Theater.

Barriers – racial, language or otherwise – are broken each spring on the Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC) campus.

They are torn down by graceful movements during Dances of India performances that promote unity and celebrate diversity.

“We bring people together through performing arts to show that we are more alike than different,” said event organizer and acclaimed performer Dr. Maha Gingrich.

CPCC presents the 12th Anniversary of Dances of India at 4 p.m. April 26 on campus at Halton Theater. The event features traditional Indian classical and folk dances – rhythmic movements that tell the story of ancient India through costumes, dance dramas and music.

The event’s signature dance, “Unity in Diversity,” will be set to a live international orchestra and feature an array of international dances.

Dances of India.

Dances of India.

“Using performing art, there is no language barrier,” Gingrich said. “It opens people’s eyes and makes them think beyond racial barriers. You get rid of those barriers through performing arts.”

She organized the first Dances of India event in 2000 at CPCC. In addition to showcasing the beautiful diversity that exists in the Charlotte region, the performances highlight how traditional Indian dances have influenced dance forms across the world.

Indian dance has influenced tap and flamingo dancing, among others. And festival dances in India, Greece and Italy share commonalities, Gingrich said.

Through Dances of India, “I was able to bring in different dance forms and groups and tell the story of how India’s dance has influenced other cultures,” she said.

Support from the Arts & Science Council (ASC) has allowed performances to grow exponentially and expose broader audiences to CPCC, Gingrich said.

“When people support ASC,” she said, “they’re supporting a vision of Charlotte as not only an international city but a city that has a history, a city that supports science and takes pride in the art and artists that exist in our city and the region.”

“We bring people together through performing arts to show that we are more alike than different,” said event organizer and acclaimed performer Dr. Maha Gingrich.

“We bring people together through performing arts to show that we are more alike than different,” said event organizer and acclaimed performer Dr. Maha Gingrich.

Want to Go?

The 12th Anniversary of Dances of India takes place at 4 p.m. April 26 at Halton Theater on the campus of Central Piedmont Community College, 1206 Elizabeth Ave., Charlotte. Tickets are $10 adults and $5 school-age children. More information: http://www.charlottecultureguide.com/event/detail/441809877/Dances_of_India.

How power2give raised $5 million in 950 days

4 Apr

By H. Perry Mixter 
Associate Vice President, Client Services, power2give

Power2GiveRegisteredMark

By day 465, Community School of the Arts had raised $1,000 to support over 100 dedicated young musicians through its signature Suzuki Strings program.

By day 648, the Carolina Raptor Center had raised $9,600 to support feeding the birds through its “Food, Glorious Food!” project.

By day 924, Northwest School of the Arts had raised $7,500 to enable students to attend the prestigious Southeastern Theatre Conference in Mobile, Ala.

Those are just three of the over 2,100 successful power2give projects from across the country.

Add up all the funds raised nationwide for cultural projects large and small, and you get $5 million in just 950 days – a milestone power2give.org reached in March.

At power2give.org, we are celebrating crossing the $5 million mark in funds raised since the Arts & Science Council launched this innovative

Perry Mixter, power2give.org associate vice president of client services.

Perry Mixter, power2give.org associate vice president of client services.

crowd funding platform for arts and culture two and a half years ago. You may be wondering why this achievement is so significant for us. To put this in perspective, can you think of any platform or campaign that raises, on average, in excess of $5,000 per day for arts and culture?

There are many more reasons to celebrate this accomplishment and what it represents.

We are changing the fund raising landscape. The power2give platform has secured donations from over 20,000 unique individuals, who have directed their funding to the projects they are passionate about – and in an age when new donors are hard to come by, over 40-percent of these donors are first time contributors.

Raising awareness AND funds. The average power2give gift is between $50 and $100, so the platform provides an easy way for donors to make modest gifts towards projects where their support makes a difference and gives them a deeper understanding about the impact they are having in the community. Over time, this helps to build much stronger relationships with these organizations’ individual donors.

The flexibility to raise funds anytime. The power2give platform is totally flexible – the organization decides the timing and duration of their power2give project campaign, and determines the appropriate target markets for the campaign. Reaching those markets through social media is effective and economical.

We’re not just in Charlotte anymore. In fact, Charlotte is just the tip of the iceberg – power2give is now nationwide! The platform showcases and celebrates the incredible diversity of the cultural landscape in the 24 communities we now serve. From Seattle to DC and Miami to Detroit, each power2give community learns from the successes achieved by others, and we are developing a great network to share and build upon each other’s crowd funding accomplishments.

Storytelling is the key. Unlike other forms of fund raising and awareness building, we have learned that the most essential component in a successful crowd funding campaign is compelling storytelling. When an organization succinctly describes the positive impact their project will have in the community, donors respond. power2give is the ideal platform for this exchange.

Want to learn more? Visit http://power2give.org for much more information and see for yourself how we are making a difference across the country. (And – don’t forget to “Like” us on Facebook!)

Meet our spring Community Supported Art artists

20 Mar

By Amy Bareham
Cultural & Community Investment Intern

Our spring Community Supported Arts (CSA) season kicks off this week! Nine talented local artists will provide CSA shareholders with original, limited-edition works of art at three pick-up events/art parties in March, April and May.

Here’s a look at each of the participating artists.

Carmella Jarvi: Buy on in – the water’s fine 

Drive down I-77 South and just after its intersection with W. Morehead Street you’ll see Jarvi’s work displayed on one of the ASC ArtPop billboards.

Drive down I-77 South and just after its intersection with W. Morehead Street you’ll see Jarvi’s work displayed on one of the ASC ArtPop billboards.

 

 

 

 

 

Wan Marsh – Faith, trust, and a little bit of Oprah dust 

This collage by artist Wan Marsh, entitled “Birdman,” is featured in the Arts & Science Council's ArtPop program, which places the work of 20 local artists on billboards across Mecklenburg County. Marsh's billboard is visible along Brookshire Boulevard.

This collage by artist Wan Marsh, entitled “Birdman,” is featured in the Arts & Science Council’s ArtPop program, which places the work of 20 local artists on billboards across Mecklenburg County. Marsh’s billboard is visible along Brookshire Boulevard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scott Partridge – Piecing it together

Scott Partridge’s work includes bright color and geometry as seen here.

Scott Partridge’s work includes bright color and geometry as seen here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lauren Doran – Snapshotting Lauren Doran

“Harvest” represents Lauren Doran’s skill at blending light, the everyday and the seraphic.

“Harvest” represents Lauren Doran’s skill at blending light, the everyday and the seraphic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jonathan Pellitteri – Standing proud – a Charlotte sculptor on the up and up 

Jonathan Pellitteri 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amy Sanders – Molding Charlotte’s art scene

These mugs bear Amy Sanders’ individual appliques.

These mugs bear Amy Sanders’ individual appliques. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mark Stephenson – A Living Canvas

 

“Johna Edmonds, Miss North Carolina 2013” by Mark Stephenson.

“Johna Edmonds, Miss North Carolina 2013” by Mark Stephenson.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amy Bagwell – The poetic musings of Amy Bagwell

“Watching you Land” by Amy Bagwell. Photo credit: Taryn Rubin.

“Watching you Land” by Amy Bagwell. Photo credit: Taryn Rubin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Terry Shipley – Animating life with Terry Shipley

These flowers are unique to Terry Shipley and, though tedious to make, are one of her favorite projects.

These flowers are unique to Terry Shipley and, though tedious to make, are one of her favorite projects.

 

 

 

ASC President Robert Bush shares how culture influences the next generation

19 Mar

By Robert Bush
ASC President 

Robert Bush

Robert Bush

My parents thought I had lost my mind.  They made certain that I had every opportunity, including seeing me complete my M.A. in community education and securing a teaching position at a school for at-risk youth, so they couldn’t fathom how I could toss all of that work aside.  After four years of teaching language arts and outdoor skills (whitewater, back packing and rock climbing), I quit.

It wasn’t that I didn’t love teaching – I still do – but the opportunity to be the executive director of a local arts council was too much to resist.  After all, I was trading a traditional classroom of kids for a county full of people and a cultural classroom that contained museums and theatres, libraries and science centers, a symphony and chorales.  What I did not know is the extent to which my next 33 years would be filled with classroom moments of wonder, awe and inspiration as I watched children and youth encounter the arts, science and history in real ways.  That’s what I want to share in this letter – two stories of how chance encounters made faces light up and perhaps changed a life’s path.

I expect that like me, you believe arts in education is important.  Did you know 86% of Charlotte-Mecklenburg residents agree that arts, music, drama and dance education programs in schools are important in helping children do better in other academic subjects?

I could fill the rest of this letter with numbers that show the importance of making the arts core to the education of every child.  Some are very compelling.  For example, a student involved in the arts is:

  • Four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement;
  • Four times more likely to participate in a math or science fair; and
  • Three times more likely to win an award for school attendance.

Even better,

  • Low-income students who are highly engaged in the arts are more than twice as likely to graduate from college as their peers with no arts education;
  • 72% of business leaders say that creativity is the number one skill they are seeking when hiring; and
  • Students who take four years of art and music classes average almost 100 points better on their SAT scores than students that take only one-half a year or less.

But back to the stories…

I don’t remember his name, but I can see him sitting alone in the school multipurpose room – a nice looking young man of about 10 or 11, but his visual and physical impairments were obvious.

John, the artist-in-residence that I had brought with me to visit the school, was a Juilliard trained pianist, a charismatic performer who could charm any audience with his easy approach to making classical music approachable.  John sat down at the piano, the children got quiet and he began to play.  I believe it was a Chopin Étude, and immediately, the young man I spotted previously sat up in his chair, clearly responding to music.

At the end of the performance, the young man’s teacher brought him up to meet John.  She told us he had never spoken.  John spoke to him and asked if he liked the piano, the young man immediately nodded his head.  John asked him to sit on the piano bench next to him and began to play.  He played a musical phrase, stopped and without hesitation, the young man played the phrase back to him on the piano.  This went on for almost 30 minutes before it was time to go.

I learned a tremendous lesson that afternoon – the power of art to connect human beings and the power of musical language to transcend all language and communication barriers.

I experienced a similarly profound moment during my time at the Mint Museum.  A young African American woman was visiting the museum during her 7th grade field trip with other CMS students, and I happened to come upon the group in the European Art Gallery.

The young woman was examining every inch of the coronation portrait of Queen Charlotte by Sir Allan Ramsay.  She got close and looked, and then, she stepped back.  Her concentration was on her hair and her regal attire.  She shook her head and nodded knowingly as she took a final step back and announced to her classmates, “Don’t tell me she isn’t a sista.”

Allan Ramsay (Scottish, 1713-1784) Created: circa 1762 Materials: Oil on canvas Dimensions: 96 x 63 inches Not currently on display Gift from Frank Ryan Harty to Mint Museum

Allan Ramsay (Scottish, 1713-1784)
Created: circa 1762
Materials: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 96 x 63 inches
Not currently on display
Gift from Frank Ryan Harty to Mint Museum

The docent quickly told the students that, in fact, their fellow classmate was very perceptive, and Queen Charlotte’s lineage did, indeed, included Moors from the Portuguese royal family, and she quite possibly was biracial.

I learned, during that brief encounter with a school group, the power to see yourself in a work of art that might seem so foreign to your condition, and how that connection can positively influence your aspirations and goals.

When I left my formal classroom years ago, I didn’t fully understand how I would continue to experience the joy of teaching – not as the teacher, but as part of organizations that help make teaching moments tangible through arts and culture.  I’ve witnessed children enthralled by Opera Carolina’s performance of The Three Little Pigs; seen teenagers come face-to-face with the history of our city at the Levine Museum of the New South; watched pre-school classrooms light up with the mere presence of a storyteller; experienced sheer delight with middle school students during their first time working in a science lab at Discovery Place; and sat with proud parents as their sons and daughters performed in the Winterfield Elementary School Orchestra.

Those were just a few of the thousands of young faces I’ve seen touched by the power of the arts, science and history, and they’ve completely validated the moment I shocked my parents many years ago.  But even more important, I want everyone that has donated to ASC (or one of our cultural partners) to understand that you are a part of those young people’s experiences.  Your actions set up the table for wonder!

Help ASC keep those moments of wonder in motion by enabling even more arts, science and history experiences for the next generation.  By supporting their cultural growth and well-being, we ensure our community’s well-being.

ASC is You & Me – now and in the future.

Animating life with Terry Shipley

14 Mar

By Amy Bareham
Cultural & Community Investment Intern 

“I guess the best way to describe it is it’s very accidental…I’m an accidental artist.”

Equal parts humility and wonder light up Terry Shipley’s face when she begins talking about ceramics, a passion she discovered at age 42. A Community Supported Art participant, she considers herself living proof that it is never too late to embrace something new.

These flowers are unique to Terry Shipley and, though tedious to make, are one of her favorite projects.

These flowers are unique to Terry Shipley and, though tedious to make, are one of her favorite projects.

For Shipley, the something new was clay painting which boomed in popularity several years ago. She would spend hours at paint the bisque-ware places until her infatuation was so deep that “friends finally said stop it, go take a class.”

Those classes led to a nine year stint renting space from Clayworks as well as significant time spent at Jewish Community Center workshops. These experiences allowed for intimate clay study devoid of any intimidation. Maybe this is why Shipley speaks so fondly of clay, almost as though it’s an old friend – ceramics are a comfortable, all inclusive medium.­

The opportunity to cultivate her relationship with clay on a full-time basis came from the McColl Center for Visual Art’s Artist in Residency program. As an affiliate artist, Shipley had access to a blend of local artists who inspired and challenged.

Now, Shipley has a definitive identity as a ceramics artist, including a wild color palette, the use of flowers, and stacking – most evident in her totem pieces. Conceptually, Shipley focuses on hand-building, a method of working that enables her to connect best with the clay.

“I exclusively hand-build,” she said. “I usually start with a slab construction, flat, and make different forms I can slump clay onto or into.” Even though hand-building comes with a price, (“it’s physically demanding and the repetition can take its toll”) she forges on.

Once she bought herself a kiln, Shipley was an unstoppable clay-working force. She caters primarily to décor and says she would describe herself – her aesthetic – as decorative. This is evident when studying her art. There isn’t a centralized message; the ceramics are simply beautiful testaments to human creativity.

“It’s not social issues,” she said. “I’m not trying to make an important statement. I kind of pursue decorative form. I

Pictured here is a more sculpturally intensive work that exhibits the stacking technique.

Pictured here is a more sculpturally intensive work that exhibits the stacking technique.

read the newspaper in the morning. My voice is the alternative I want to that, I want something gentler, something happier.”

Most engaging about Shipley is her continuing desire to learn. She fosters that desire within herself, improving her painting skills thereby improving her clay-work, and within others. Her wall pieces, featured at the Levine Children’s Hospital, included the ideas of local fifth graders.

“I’m not a teacher but fifth graders are amazing,” she said. “Their enthusiasm is so strong. Little ones, they’re just wide open.”

CSA shareholders will benefit from Shipley’s dedication, receiving a painted vase with a “very lively, fabulous pattern” just in time for spring fauna’s arrival.

Fair warning: Shipley’s joie de vivre is contagious. Meet her and you will be changed, but sit with her for a while and you will realize you have dreams that have lain dormant far too long.

Click here to view more of Shipley’s work.

The poetic musings of Amy Bagwell

14 Mar

By Amy Bareham
Cultural & Community Investment Intern 

In your memory there probably exists a nasty grammar school teacher with half-moon spectacles and a fierce lecture on dangling modifiers who preached about poetry as rhyme and metaphor, parallelism and meter. Now, you run from her gravelly voice every time you stumble across a book of poetry lying innocently open in a waiting room.

And then there are English professors like Amy Bagwell, a Community Supported Art (CSA) participant and poet, who understands that life usually has one too many syllables and can get lost in figurative language. Behind Bagwell’s assemblages lies a desire to make poetry accessible and enjoyable instead of intimidating – because if we’re honest, don’t we secretly want to channel our inner John Mayer and scream say what you need to say when digesting Shakespeare?

Bagwell, who teaches at Central Piedmont Community College, has been writing poems since she was eight and began experimenting with wall art after college as an alternative to poetry readings. She believes anything that lifts poetry from the page expands its appeal to a given audience, which led to a collaborative show with close friend, Shawn L. Smith. Smith and Bagwell exhibited assemblages and poems respectively, both incorporating elements of light, water and text into their pieces.

Inspired by Smith, Bagwell considered objects and their propensity to complement her text. The installations that resulted are a fusion of vintage whimsy and modern verse, “…the object’s story and the poem…working in unison” and becoming “a greater expression”.

“Watching you Land” by Amy Bagwell. Photo credit: Taryn Rubin.

“Watching you Land” by Amy Bagwell. Photo credit: Taryn Rubin.

Bagwell used to frame her poems, simply hanging them on the wall, but using clocks, books and fish tanks as display models completely changes the aesthetic of her work.

“It went from a way to show a poem to an environment for that poem,” she said.

If encountered correctly, a poem is a living, breathing creature – the images and the sounds it contains speak to something more, something deep within the reader. Says Bagwell, “It [poetry] can fix a moment in time but it isn’t unchanging.” This is what allows poetry to come alive, and this is why Bagwell’s art makes sense – poems are meant to inhabit the spaces around us.

How does she choose the vessel for a poem?

“It always starts with the text and not the object,” she said. “I put something together and then live with it for a day. I don’t want to force it or go off of artificial motivation.”

Cutting out book pages and inserting a poem was a way of combatting the commonality of books. Any bookstore is an overwhelming mecca of immeasurable thoughts in glossy hardcover. Poetry, a rarified being, has the smallest shelf space so the book theme allowed Bagwell to conquer poetry’s inconsequence.

From an artistic perspective, Bagwell feels it is “rare in publishing” to find “a book that’s a beautiful object.” When she does alight on true works of art, she wants to create installations that showcase those objects’ potential.

Of the CSA opportunity, Bagwell says, “It’s a terrible, terrific pressure.” She is constructing 50 assemblages using unpainted, wood boxes. Inside will be one poetic segment that, when combined with the other boxes, makes one long poem. Bagwell hopes to photograph the whole poem prior to sending out the boxes and will include a printed copy of the poem in its entirety. The challenge has been establishing just where to break the poem, but, explains Amy, “What appeals to me is that each bit retains meaning even out of context.”

Shareholders receiving an assemblage have permission to interpret their poetic parcel as freely as they choose, appreciating its linguistic quality or simply its contribution to the total picture.

“Don’t all artists want to convey something?” ponders Bagwell. “But then we don’t have the power to control what we

“The Beat and John Singer" by Amy Bagwell. Photo credit: Taryn Rubin.

“The Beat and John Singer” by Amy Bagwell. Photo credit: Taryn Rubin.

convey. That’s what’s fascinating to me. Thinking about that kind of boggles my mind…there’s exponential interpretations. It’s also daunting…but that’s good.”

If you’ve abandoned poems to musty textbooks from the high school days, take a moment to give them a second chance and read Amy’s. Thou may just be pleasantly surprised.

Click here to see more of Bagwell’s work.

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