I saw a show at The Artery over summer break that inspired me to experiment with integrating pictures and poetry. I devoted a few pages of my sketchbook to this cause and then essentially forgot about it until I began to contemplate possibilities for a creative project related to Dickinson (I knew after the first few reading assignments that my project would be about Dickinson and not James. . . not because I don't like James, but because the pictures his words paint are sophisticated oils in ornate frames, while Emily's are wild and vibrant, like watercolors made with wide, lyrical brushes and hung on a clothesline to dry). I conceived a project that was "mixed media" in every sense of the term: it would not only combine words and images, but also materials ranging from spray paint to White-out.
I chose three Emily Dickinson poems that, by my interpretation, shared a common theme of sexuality and femininity, then visualized how the female figure could convey the power of these poems through gesture and shape. I then created three drawings, first doing a series of quick sketches to capture the movement and the placement of the poses, then transferring them to posterboard as somewhat tighter outside contour drawings. I cut the posterboard drawings into stencils and used them with spray paint to create the basis for my pieces (side note: I went through a whole pack of Exacto blades). When the spray paint dried, I wrote the related verses on the paintings using paint pens, acrylics, and White-out, and added detail and contrast with oil pastels, paint, colored pencil, gold leaf, and probably several other things that were lying around my work area.
I used photographs of myself as models for the first two drawings ("I took my Power in my Hand" and "A charm invests a face"), but when I tried to draw from my "Split the Lark" pose, I had no luck. I began to go through other photos in search for an alternative, and I found it in a prolific image of one of my friends when she was eight and a half months pregnant.
I tried to convey the subtle and not-so-subtle conflicts of being female with both my poetry and my choices and their accompanying images. If I have succeeded, it is because I had such an extraordinary woman acting as my muse and my medium.
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