Often when you see an artwork, a story starts to develop in your mind from your memories and experiences. This story you mentally compose may not be the same as what the artist had in mind, but that’s what’s marvelous about what art can do for you personally.
Now imagine writing down your thoughts about your interpretation. What would you say?
For poets involved in the Inland Poetry Prowl in Ellensburg, now in its fourth year, this was their challenge — to write poetry based on works by five artists from the 2018 Pacific Northwest Photography Viewing Drawers event held by the Blue Sky/Oregon Center for the Photographic Arts. The annual juried exhibition featured portfolios by more than 40 photographers from Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana.
For this exhibit, titled “Double Vision,” each artist presents two distinct visions for each photograph — one that is purely aesthetic, the other conceptual — tugging at our thoughts in two directions that reveal more serious underlying themes. These themes interplay with our personal memories or tie into what we think of as the universal or collective memory.
As each photograph has an accompanying poem, you are also presented with the memories and thoughts of another.
Susan Bein describes her series, “Head Shots,” by stating that she “embraces the fact that she is bald, and uses the dome of her head as a stage for her whimsical still lifes.” Her playful, often humorous, compositions underscore the artist’s comfort within her own skin as she flaunts conventional expectations of what a woman’s body “should” look like.
For the photograph “North Bend Red Triangle” by Jennifer Zwick, Meredith Clark wrote the poem “Tri,” which begins:
I, I, I in the late light, stuttering, hammering thing.
I, in fact, in the middle again,
of your workshop, all
I, angling the ecology, just by sitting down.
Me, you will make a remainder of.
There was more, you know,
Do the words of the poet challenge or enhance your own interpretation of the image? This may be inherent to the idea of the double vision.
You can view “Double Vision” at Gallery One, 408 N. Pearl St. in Ellensburg, from April 5-27. An opening reception will take place from 5-8 p.m. April 5.
The Inland Poetry Prowl is a weekendlong poetry event hosted by various venues within easy walking distance around Ellensburg. Celebrating Sylvia Plath, the event offers featured guest readers, craft talks, open mics, live radio broadcasts, book fairs and film screenings. Gallery One will be a venue for the event on April 6.
Learn more about the Inland Poetry Prowl at www.inlandpoetry.com.
• David Lynx is executive director of the Larson Gallery at Yakima Valley College. Learn more at www.larsongallery.org.