Arts & Culture

Art collaboration emphasizes beauty

By
Staff Writer
Monday, October 29, 2012

Glass barometers engraved with poems hung in a cascading pattern, and abstract paintings sat next to poems about searching for identity in “Spillforth,” an exhibit that opened Friday in the Perry and Marty Granoff Center for the Creative Arts.
Forrest Gander, professor of literary arts and comparative literature, and C. D. Wright, professor of literary arts, collaborated with Rochester Institute of Technology Professors of American Crafts Richard Hirsch and Michael Rogers to put on this art and literature exhibit, which will be on display through Nov. 20 in the Cohen Gallery.
“In a lot of poems the language has to do with doubling,” Gander said. The name of the exhibit, “Spillforth,” is a compound word, he said. “When two words come together, they create something different. When two artists come together, they create something one artist couldn’t have made individually.”
Engraved glass barometers crafted by Rogers and filled with bright blue water are arranged on one wall. Underneath them, lines of poetry are written in scrawling handwriting. When the weather pressure changes, some of the water will drip onto the poems and obscure some of the words, Rogers said.
When making the barometers, Rogers thought about the “invisible forces that affect creative people,” he said. He added that he is interested in how the drips from the barometer will distort the words and change something tangible to something intangible.
Hirsch’s encaustic paintings, created by melting many layers of different colored hot wax, cover one wall. The color scheme has brick-reds and muted greens, and the pictures are balances of color and texture rather than depictions of concrete objects – what Hirsch called “paintings of nothing.” Some of the colors underneath are visible in certain areas and not in others, giving a sense of layers and perhaps changes over time.
“I would hope people come in and say ‘God, that’s beautiful,'” he said. He added that his intention was “not social commentary, not political, not cutting-edge, just trying to make things I consider beautiful.”
“Who am I?” – the first line of a poem by Gander about searching for identity –    hangs next to these works.
“Neither one is completely based on the other, but they are working together to define visions,” Gander said of the poems and artwork.
On another wall, a series of birds nose-diving towards the floor with folded scrolls attached to the strings suspending them are accompanied by a quick-paced sensory poem by Wright as well as a poem by Gander. Large ceramic works resembling mortars and pestles rest on the floor as well.
The poets and artists originally met through a mutual friend who often had groups of artists and writers over to his house to exchange ideas, Gander said. Upon their friend’s suggestion, they created an exhibit at RIT called “The Mano Project” earlier this year. This exhibit, “Spillforth,” features completely different works, he said.
Hirsch said he expects this group of artists and writers to collaborate more in the future.