VVP: Art 434 & Engl. 410

Website for Vision Voice and Practice: An Interdisciplinary Course in Art and Creative Writing

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Veronica Burris & Chelsea Almeter, Senior Exhibition

Veronica Burris and Chelsea Almeter were both members of this class. The semester ended with their Senior Thesis exhibitions. Themes of both thesis projects informed much of their VV&P production. This was such a rich and rewarding way to bring our semester to a close. Congratulations!

Final Collaborations

As a final collaboration the students (visual artists and writers) were directed to create a site-specific work that in some way responded to the themes of the semester. Here are a few examples.

Amber Johnson - solo project

Monday, May 23, 2011

Individual Projects: Prose

MRI Daydreams of a 7-year-old

Upon exploding, he hoped to leave behind a finger for her to hold in her manicured hands. But eight and a half minutes passed smoothly by, and then there was nothing left to draw but black. The whole page turned black, leaving no room for greetings or goodbyes. When he finished, he hurled his letter towards the Earth and followed its clean white speck to the ocean.

Her face was in the sponges, her hands in every coral reef. One-way radio waves sang to him as he pried open oysters, collecting fat white pearls for a necklace that would catch on her ankle in the morning.

And when he surfaced on a sled, he could see her fur-lined neck and hot-chocolate hands to his left. They kept his body from crashing, from crumpling up in a pool of pink. But still, the small white lights whispered to him. Since he wasn’t sure which one to follow, he carved her name into the ice and rested.

Later, he was afraid his skull might swallow and send his brain sliding down the back of his neck. And as he wondered about the stillness of head nods, forgetting and being forgotten, her hands moved over him, smoothing all his white linen wrinkles.

- Anna Moreau


The balloon would lurch and set back down—rise and lower just like that—until Jemi and I were finally in the air. We moved higher and higher toward the Western sun, rapidly setting on our day’s labors. Or maybe I thought of this as our life’s labors—and mine in particular. The canopy of our balloon was stitched together from canvas with heavy threading and the seams were sealed with hide glue. The result was strong, and I thought that if we could manage to get North in this craft, we would be away from Fort Union. That would be enough. In my quieter moments I had made plans for us to leave this no-man’s land for Jemi’s sake.

Last week, I caught Jemi taking the lizards out of the washtubs we’d been putting them in. I quickly picked her up off the floor and she cried, but I held her tight in my arms and continued to carry her while I filled the remaining washtubs with dirt that I had put outside along the barn. She did not stop crying by the time I finished adding dirt to the bins. I carried her to the house.

We left a year after we first arrived—my contract with the U.S. government about run out. We were beginning to be run out ourselves by the pests that seemed like they followed us from Mississippi ‘cept here they are lizards instead of little rats and squirrels, and things. We tried to contain the lizards mostly in the barn but the more I found houses for them, the more they just kept coming asking for rooms. I guess I was not surprised when we moved here that the reptiles did appear, but there were few choices available to me about how to take my leave of them.

The plans for the balloon were simple and I was able to execute the design on my own. This was the only way I could see that I knew the lizards couldn’t follow. Jemi and I plucked the remaining ones that stuck to our basket as we lifted off the ground. It’ll be some other plague or infestation when we touch down who knows where next. But for now, Jemi is giggling a little and holding tight onto the basket frame—a little scared and a little happy to be where she is.

- Barak Wright



“You can't love anybody but yourself.”

Those words haunted him as he walked through the empty apartment that night. They'd haunted him every day since the last day he'd seen her, the day he'd moved into this apartment.

“I love people.” He said to himself, passing the mirrors he'd left covered when he hung them months ago. “I love people besides myself. Mom, dad, Matty, Kelsey, Cherish. . . I love them. I love my family.”

His restless steps brought him into the kitchen, where a pot of water stood on the stove, waiting to be boiled for his regular Thursday night pasta dinner.

“Only love myself. . .” He stopped in front of the stove, but didn't change anything. “That's not true.”

But he hadn't loved Esther, even though they'd dated for three years. She'd felt his boredom, his lack of attachment, and broke off the relationship. He'd felt bad, but there was nothing he could do. She'd wanted to be serious, and he hadn't. It wasn't that he hadn't liked her – she was great, and gorgeous, and sweet – she just – she just wasn't enough. He had to admit, she'd tried, tried to like philosophy and football and Italian food and those other things he enjoyed so much he seemed to have been born to enjoy them – those things that were part of him. Those things that were him. They were him, and she couldn't appreciate that like he did.

Maybe he was just supposed to be alone.

He leaned over the pot to see how much water he'd put in, and caught himself staring at his reflection.

Why did he need anybody, anyway? He knew what he wanted out of his life, and he knew how to achieve that. He didn't need Esther, or Pietra, or Rosamund – he didn't need any of them. He didn't need anybody, just himself. He could take care of everything. Girlfriends just messed up his routine, anyway. Always wanted to be held, always wanted to watch their own stupid movies, always wanted to know how they looked, if blue or yellow looked better on them –

Just the thought of it made him cringe, and he shook his head. His reflection caught his eye again.

Maybe he was just supposed to be alone.

- Alysa Spolidoro

Individual Projects: Poetry

Us girls

Us girls never back down,

like the Spanish color yellow:

boom-boom, bounce back,

catapult upward with fast-luck,

conditioned to roll with the punch.

Bend us arrows and tightly pull

so that we can fly and hit the bulls'

eye square in the mouth

to break his teeth.

One pound flesh-and-bone we mix

into shepherdess pie. 'Mid

genderized beef, the mashed

potatoes smother the deed

which we waited,

for so long,

to eat.

- Katelynn Camp



Unexpected splendor yielded by inner-city excursions

manifests in sun burnt kids with bare feet, wandering

their gated yards, lying so close to the metro tracks

that their mothers cast a wary eye every time it passes.

The leathery old men walk the baked cement sidewalks

of humming Los Angeles, shuffling unconcerned amidst

rushing middle class crowds pouring out of offices

For the too-short lunch hour, heads down and feet forward.

They, the thick life-blood of the city, chugging through

its intravenous structures, keep the California conurbation

alive and kicking, however rebelliously, or eagerly, or what-have-you,

moving the city-scape along, the creaking cogs and lynch-pins

of the sprawling metropolis, faces so fantastically various

that one could never be bored, the trains and buses

offering up their carriage for impertinent observation

as long as the observer manages not to get caught.

History is the substructure of the city, culture bursts out

On the streets in so many forms, art blooming unexpected

Appearing in stations, on sidewalks, in vacant store windows

Giving the rushing throngs something to look up at, to think about.

These the invaluable treasures the city keeps

and displays to its visitors and residents, a constant show

now veiled, now glowing, fading in and out of the smog

to astonish when least expected with its majesty.

- Candace Arce-Lindsay


Common Moments

One day you'll come home and trample

the carpet, flinging yourself out of

your coat like splitting skin.

You'll wash my nude lipstick

off the side of one of my favorite

baroque mugs,

listening for the sound of my voice

whose gratitude invites you in

to the grandeur of my embrace,

and then enter fully into a moment

that can overwhelm, like a river

running wild.

As the throat is tugged hard by the

rush of time, you calmly speak aloud,

in a current pounding past,

I won't remember much and I'll forget

the days which passed like single squares,

without a sound of carpet or coat.

- Delia Baltierra



You move through lost origins, not obvious,

Possible loop-holes of soft turquoise foam,

Or shove to fortress rocks above

Bold shadows of broken octagons-

Forget those for now; hot stones force

you down toward shore, freedom

Removed to move, to explore. Go now

To homes known only to moss-covered

Bones, or golden coins lost forever.

You drop below the gloss, tones of

Loss so frozen for moments, so open for

Movements. Silhouettes become gone so

Often, only to shoot out of coves

Once unnoticed. Above, before you drown.

Without rhetoric of topaz roars,

Orations of horizons pointing to

Other shores, onyx-mouthed oceans

Would lose voice, groaning only

Apologies of driftwood, driftwood.

- Jonny Mueller



Water in the river was always red

and before I thought it was just the dirt

but turns out the river is made of blood

and the blood is actually Jesus’ blood

who is a carpenter who made me. His

blood is in all the rivers, and if you

float your pain in one of them for long enough

it will all get washed away into a kingdom

that is under the river. You go there too.

- Megan Jackson

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Long Game

Ira Glass on the life of the maker. Our student Veronica Burris sent this video to us.

Another student sent us to this tumblr, a working out, for the sake of it, of what interests one person in writing and vision.