by Debbie Vance
Art should interact with art. Media should overlap, interweave, convene. Movement meets writing meets music meets paint, ink, clay, canvas. All too often, we restrict our training and experience to one art form, to the shameful neglect of its inspirational neighbors, and it is our own loss we engender.
Here at Conundrum Press, we believe in the comingling of art and artists. Conundrum supports the collaborative work between Lighthouse Writers Workshop and Colorado Conservatory of Dance, where a group of young writers engage a group of young dancers to create a ballet, fusing written story with performed story and finding one common language betwixt. Click here for more information on their most recent finished work, In the Along.
While we can all appreciate the brilliance of a collaborative project of this size, we cannot all engage in such a creative process—we don’t all have a team of talented dancers to create with. But take heart! There are myriad other ways to mix media in our individual projects.
Nox by Anne Carson is more of a poetic creation that a book—it folds accordian style and fits into a book-shaped box—and is at once a step-by-step translation of Latin poet Catallus’ Elegy 101, a poetic exploration of the loss of her brother that mirrors the loss expressed by Catallus, and a visual journey made up of the photographs, drawings, and letter clippings that accompanied her real-time experience.
When the Pie was Opened is a collection of new and translated poems by Irish poet Paul Muldoon, accompanied by drawings and etchings by the Sicillian artist Lanfranco Quadrio.
Still Life with Oysters and Lemon by Mark Doty is a prosaic exploration of everyday items and how we infuse them with meaning. His is an example of ekphrasis—writing about a visual image—which is a genre of writing that dates back to Achilles’ shield in Homer’s Iliad. “And first Hephasestus makes a great and massive shield, blazoning well-wrought emblems all across its surface, raising a rim around it, glittering, triple-ply with a silver shield-strap run from edge to edge and five layers of metal to build the shield itself.” Ekphrasis journeys through early and modern writing, from Shakespeare to Keats to Dostoevsky to Wilde to Mehlville, and comes full circle back to the Shield of Achilles, in the poem by that title by W.H. Auden.
Persian artist Abbas Khajeaian uses colors and textures to reflect on the intricacies of life, or to “plumb the depths,” as he says. He has partnered with poets such as Forugh Farrokhzad to create poetic abstracts, where words and paint interact and bring forth a more complete truth than either could accomplish alone.
Cinematic States by Gareth Higgins, forthcoming November 2013 with Burnside Books, is an exploration of America via movies from each state. Film criticism—assessing the quality of visual art through written words—is a fundamentally multi-media endeavor, and Higgins—an Irish film critic—creates a whole new understanding of America within this deft melding of film and word.
It is our hope that these mixed media creations will inspire your own. Take a photograph and write about it. Go to the art museum and imagine. Read the ballet written by Lighthouse Writers Workshop and Ballet Nouveau and explore how you can tell story through movement. Let your latent synesthesia expand and seep into your art, and create something new.Tags: abbas khajeaian, art, auden, ballet nouveau colorado, burnside books, carson, cinematic states, doty, gareth higgins, lighthouse writers workshop, muldoon, multi-media, nonfiction, poetry, prose