Arts Warehouse Celebrates National Poetry Month with Shiny Things Exhibit
A “pulled from a hat” anonymous pairing of literary and visual artists created the Shiny Things Exhibit, which aims to be complex and explore the intersections and deviations of art through a nuanced conversation about a common theme. Made possible with support from the Poetry Foundation, Shiny Things is open through April 29 in celebration of National Poetry Month.
“The artists, each challenged to stretch beyond their usual creative practice, are having a conversation about what it means to respond to something individually and collectively at the same time. The work, then, becomes a call and response between the artists and the viewers, who ultimately become participants in a sense, as they, too, are invited to explore the connections and deviations in the work,” said Sheree Greer, one of the event curators.
Five visual artists and five literary artists were paired to respond to each other’s work in a blind process. Each poem has a visual art response, and each visual piece has a literary art response. Greer said the exhibit invites visitors to interact with the artwork, not only viewing each offering on its own, but returning to each piece to explore how and where the artists respond to each other.
“It’s almost like decoding a message or translating parts of a conversation spoken in a new language invented by the two artists,” Greer said. “There’s sculpture and verse, painting and sound, texture and light. The exhibition really does have it all.”
All of the 10 artists were selected for the depth and complexity of their work, then paired anonymously literally by pulling names from a bowl. Each artist also has a connection to Florida, either by being from or living in the state.
“The idea for the exhibition stems from the term ekphrasis – which is the written description of something, often in a poetic sense or comparison using descriptive metaphors. The curators (A Group who call themselves Rubber Bands) extended the idea of ekphrasis further – not only is there a written ‘description’ of the visual art, but the visual artists created visual reactions or descriptions of the written poems, as if culminating the words into a visual” said Grace Gdaniec, Arts Warehouse manager. “The artists were different in their approaches, some taking words and written cues literally and others leaving it more to the imagination. But what is art and poems besides an invitation for the viewer to create a reaction? So we as the viewers are seeing the result of this double ekphrastic interaction. This is also the third iteration of this style of exhibition by Rubber Bands. Each exhibition has included different artists.”
The goal for the Rubber Bands process was to invite artists who are often underrepresented in the art world. Artists whose work includes a social practice and explores themes related to social justice, equity, identity, and representation, said Greer. Additionally, there is an interesting exploration of materials used in the visual art such as rolls of vintage film turned sculptural, or mixed media pieces including moss and ashes. The poems have become “visual” as well. The words are printed on the walls in vinyl letters, on wooden boards, flash by in a video projection, or are read to the viewer by way of headphones. The exhibition is very dynamic and the curators did a great job of giving each poem a personality within the exhibition.
“Giving an opportunity to a team of guest curators by welcoming them to take over the gallery programming for a few months is something I’ve enjoyed the few times we’ve done it, Gdaniec said. “Allowing different curatorial voices with unique goals or message to be shared is a way to connect with a broader audience, and perhaps bring new artists and ideas to the Arts Warehouse that haven’t been seen before. Overall I think this is the Arts Warehouse mission – to continue to inspire and educate visitors and support the artists that we exhibit.
For more information on this exhibition and other past exhibitions at Arts Warehouse, visit https://artswarehouse.org/pastexhibitions.