Entry begun Monday, February 23, 7:30 am
Emma Rose and I had not planned out the Exhibition Walk in great detail. Our main idea was to begin in the Reading Room after the day’s last Marathon reader, inviting each of the student artists to stand by his or her work here in the Reading Room or up by the display cases on the Third Floor so viewers could ask them about their work. This worked out more or less as we had planned, and by the end of the walk most of us had drifted up to the Third Floor.
Camilla had picked the last reading slot on the first day because she knew she would not be able to stay too long with Jude. So I made sure I got a photo of them next to her work in the show.
Just a little to the left on the same wall, Kelsea Miskell stood next to her mixed-media drawing from 2014, I Came to buy a smile—today. Behind Kelsea’s right shoulder is Carol Scaringelli’s untitled painting of a female figure reaching for beauty; to the right of her artwork is Matt Ruiz’s Cleaving Mind.
My photo of Matt Ruiz and his friend Taylor Ross along the same wall earlier in the day caught only a corner of Cleaving Mind, with both of them covering John Campbell’s Bandaged Soul.
I had been very happy that this whole project had put me back in touch with Brian Morris, whose minute color pencil drawing I cannot see my soul but know ‘tis there had been such a highlight of my 2005 class in Dickinson and James. Brian brought his brother and grandfather to the Exhibition Walk. He was delighted to see that we had chosen his drawing for the back cover of the catalog.
Rachel Harpe was not here for the Exhibition Walk, but her mixed-media response to Dickinson’s My Cocoon tightens—colors tease was a favorite of Anthropology professor Judy Voelker. Emma Rose had learned a good deal about exhibition installation from a course with Judy. As Judy and I were talking next to Rachel’s artwork (a female silhouette surrounded by cut-out butterflies), I discovered that Judy was a favorite professor of Megan Beckerich too.
Over in the Landscape and Nature section, I was happy to get a photo of Jovana Vidojevic with her Orchids painting and poem. She brought a friend to the Exhibition Walk and of course was looking forward to her return to Serbia in April. It was probably no accident that the colors she was wearing matched those in her painting.
Jordan D’Addario’s Heaven is Here was to the left on the same wall, and I was happy tonight to meet her housemate. Jordan is in the second year of law school at the University of Cincinnati and has just gotten a clerkship for the summer, so I thought she would enjoy meeting her fellow Dickinson artist Brian Morris, who is graduating from NKU’s Chase Law school this semester.
Back on the other side of the room, it was a delight to see Heather Braley alongside her quilt, which had brought us so much pleasure during the reading today. I was delighted to meet her husband Christian after having met their son Clayton a few days before, when Heather delivered the sleeve by which the quilt is now hanging.
Heather had been a classmate of Tom Clark in my first graduate class in Dickinson and James during the Fall 2011 semester. Tom’s final project, his fifteen-minute multi-media video of Emily’s Civil War, was now looping with three other videos on the monitor we had used for Claire’s talk the night before. Tom had added vintage photographs and music to the Dickinson poems he had selected, and it was wonderful to see and hear the result on such excellent equipment. Tom teaches at Conner High School and two of his students had already read in the Marathon. He would be back with two more students the next day.
Before moving up to see the student artists near the display cases on the Third Floor, I was delighted to see Emily Grant Vater arrive in the company of not only her husband but of her friend Lisa Beaumont. Lisa had been Emily’s co-star in the film trailer EDickinsonRePhLuxe that Emily created as her final project in my Spring 2008 Dickinson and James course. I could not resist the opportunity to photograph them together in front of our video monitor as it was displaying the surreal scene in which Emily, playing a robot, was about to breathe.
Up on the Third Floor quite a large crowd had gathered around our display cases. It was a wonderful opportunity for our student artists to reunite with some of their classmates and meet students who had created artworks in other classes. Most of the students with artworks in these display cases were here tonight, and it was great to see them mix with each other as well as with those who came up from the installation in the Reading Room.
The four artists outside the vertical case looked as good as their works did inside it.
Here is Emily Christman standing next to Two Cents, the shadowbox featuring Dickinson Times, the fictional antique newspaper for which she wrote the kind of stories “yellow journalists” might have written about Dickinson’s life.
Here is Minadora Macheret with the double-sided letter box she had filled with her own antique invention, letters she composed as if in response to three of the “Master Letters” that Dickinson had written to addressees still unknown to this day.
Here is Molly Blackburn (McCuistion) next to her diptych I’m Nobody! Who are you! and Fame is a Bee, contrasting celebrity fame with the more lasting kind Dickinson is currently enjoying.
.And here is Keianna Troxell (Gregory) next to Gib’s Room, her poignant tribute to Emily’s dear nephew who died as a child, Keianna dressing him here in photographs you can still see today on the back of the door to his room in Amherst, “across the hedge” from Emily’s house.
Seeing each of these students singly was a real treat, and even more so, seeing them all together. We also had an excellent turnout from the student artists whose artist books were displayed in the flat cases. The only problem with this part of the exhibition is that we can only show one opening in each book at a time. Emma Rose and I plan to turn the pages every week, so that those who are interested can see the richness and scope of each of these projects.
Carola Bell, who was a classmate of Heather Braley and Tom Clark in my Fall 2011 class on Dickinson and James, was here with Only Safe in Ashes, the artist book in which her original poem exploring a complex personal relationship is handprinted letter by letter on pages singed by flame and protected by a hand-colored leather cover.
Hilda Weaver was a classmate of Minadora, Molly, Keianna, and Jordan in my Fall 2011 class in Dickinson and the Arts. A retired psychologist, she put her own original poems in conversation with those of Dickinson in a beautifully crafted book whose every two-page opening was a pleasure to behold.
Megan Beckerich was here for the Exhibition Walk as she had been for the entire day. It was particularly unfortunate that we could not display each two-page opening of her artist book because each one, in addition to a different subject, features a different artistic medium. The “purple page” on display during the opening weekend was one of many reasons were all associating Megan with the color purple by the end of the semester. She had chosen a skirt for the Exhibition Walk that beautifully matched not only the color but the design of the dress to which her artist book was open.
Although John Campbell had been extremely busy this afternoon getting the ten panels of his Emily Dickinson interpretive screen assembled and installed for the evening concert, he also made it to the Exhibition Walk in time to meet with his fellow artists and enjoy what they had created. He had been a classmate of Megan, Keianna, Kelsea, and Matt in my Spring 2014 class in Dickinson and the Arts, and he continued to associate with his young classmates with an ease not often found in one whose age and life experiences differ so sharply. His artist book was next to Megan’s, as it had been in the classroom, and today it was open to the Bandaged Soul whose enlargement was exhibited downstairs.
By the time the collegial, comfortable gathering next to the Third Floor display cases began its migration back down to the Reading Room, the food for the Reception sponsored by the Friends of Steely Library was in place and warming up. People continued to chat in small groups and look at the artworks until the food was ready. Our exhibition now had one new work. Kathleen Piercefield had agreed to loan the multi-media print of Emily Dickinson’s white dress she had premiered the night before until the end of our show in May.
Once the lids on the hot dishes on the serving table were lifted, I made a brief announcement congratulating our student artists, and the Reception got underway in earnest.
My abiding impression was of a square surrounded by a revolving circle until most of the excellent food was gone and it was time, for those who were going, to go down one floor and across the narrow plaza to Greaves Concert Hall for the Dickinson song recital.
At some point, Emma Rose and I realized that we had not yet got a good photo of ourselves together during all the time we had been working on this project. We had a photo taken before we left for the concert hall, and we’ll see if we need another one.