The visual, literary, and performing arts merged beautifully in “Image/Text,” a unique collaboration between Postcrypt Art Gallery and New Poetry.
The art show took place on Friday, Nov. 9 in the basement of St. Paul’s Chapel and was curated by Zachary Small, CC ’15. Its goal, according to Small’s curatorial statement, was to “blur the line between what defines an image and what defines a text” by examining the relationship between media and meaning, the limitations of artistic expression, and how poets are able to control language to produce the same expressive qualities that are found in visual art through two types of on-site “performances.” Rebecca Liu, CC ’14, and Natalie Robehmed, CC ’13 completed the interactive element of the pieces by composing poems on the spot, inspired by the visual art on display. In turn, Ashley Nagel, SEAS ’13, Kelsey Piva, CC ’16, and Smita Sen, CC ’16, choreographed and performed movement pieces inspired by Liu’s and Robehmed’s poetry.
The exhibit’s pieces, made by students from colleges around the city, ranged from the surreal to the whimsical. Robert Hickerson’s triptych, which depicts his interpretation of his parents’ divorce, was not formed with paint or collaged materials, but with video footage projected onto a wall. “Debasement (Entrance),” the center frame, shows a re-creation of the bedroom Hickerson lived in during the divorce. On either side are the two frames of “These Are My Parents,” which depict his mother and father, respectively, dressed in formal wear as if they are posing for a wedding photo. Hickerson himself stands ominously behind them with a sheet hiding his face, a chilling manifestation of the disjointing invisibility he must have felt.
Other pieces were equally poignant, but more lighthearted than Hickerson’s work. Kaela Chambers’ pen-and-ink illustrations, such as “Hearth” and “Go!,” were visual portmanteaus—“Hearth” portrays a fireplace in the shape of a house, with “love” written in braille emanating from its chimney, while “Go!” portrays houses growing out of a plant. Isabella Kapur’s sculpture of a human head, formed from tiny scraps of paper and illuminated by a bulb from underneath, explores the duel meanings of its title, “Light Headed.” Although books, poetry, and newspapers are physically light because they are made from paper, the knowledge they contain is substantial.
Some of the artists integrated words into the artwork, rather than simply representing them symbolically.
In “Subtraction,” Colombine Zamponi scraped away paper pulp-printed French language in order to reveal familiar English-language words beneath—a commentary on the frustrations of the art of translation. The piece is presented as a book, with the scraped pieces of pulp wedged between the book and a cement brick so that the French words that were scraped off still serve a purpose.
“Image/Text” was a fascinating, provocative look at art in its many forms and the relationships between them. The exhibit provided an eclectic sampling of students’ artistic ingenuity.
Corrections: An earlier version of this article erroneously identified artist Columbine Zamponi as Colombina Zamponni. It also erroneously credited the photograph to Zach Small instead of Rachael Dottle. Spectator regrets the errors.