VVP: Art 434 & Engl. 410

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

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Wes Anderson and Joseph Cornell

Cornell, a mainstay of this class, gets a shout-out in Anthony Lane's elegant, even moving, review of Moonrise Kingdom
[Anderson] is often spoken of as an arch-geometrician, drawn to cinema by the orders of symmetry that it allows him to impose. However, when I watch those graceful sideways tracking shots of his--through the Bishop residence, at the start of the new film, or along the train carriages, at the end of "The Darjeeling Limited"--what I sense is not a technical tic but a pressing need to bind people together even as they threaten to pull apart. (Anderson's parents, we may note in passing, divorced when he was eight.) Certain makers of musicals, like Stanley Donen and Vincente Minelli, were fêted or decried for their organizational verve and a fetishistic appetite for color; only with time did it emerge that what they sought was a shape for emotional longings, and that could happen here, too. Who knows, we may look back on Anderson's works as we do on the boxes of Joseph Cornell--formal troves of frippery, studded with nostalgic private jokes, that lodge inexplicably in the heart. 
- from this week's New Yorker (the science fiction issue)

Monday, May 28, 2012

Individual Practice - Robert Kirkendall

from "Five Exempla"

1. The Young Man and the Dog

There was once a young man enrolled in college near his hometown. His parents had friends from church, an older couple, who one day decided, “We are going on vacation to Hawaii. We have never been, and it is high time we got away.” This family asked the young man’s parents if he would take care of their dog. The young man’s parents explained that he could help himself to food from the fridge and stay in their house overnight. It would be like a vacation for him, too.

The young man agreed. The old couple would be gone for two weeks. He fed, walked, and played with the dog daily. He helped himself to food and slept in their bed. He attended daily classes at his college, a five minutes’ drive.

Two weeks passed and the young man’s parents called. “They have decided to stay for another week. They have never been on such a vacation in their lives. They deserve it.” 

He stayed another week. He fed and walked and played with the dog. He relaxed with the dog and the TV in the evenings. Summer was coming, and the dog began to shed. Every night he nudged the young man for scratches and pats, then retreated to a corner to sleep. 

His parents called after that week. “They are staying for another week. They really need rest. They have invested so much. They are sending you a check, enough for groceries and a bonus.”

So the young man stayed. The dog slept a lot. It became less hungry and would not finish its food. It began to drag behind on walks, and the young man would have to tug him forward with the leash. The dog stopped nudging for scratches and pats, and just slept in the corner.

His parents called again. The couple was staying for another week. By this time, the dog was not getting out of bed or eating and would not go for walks. The young man and his parents finally took the dog to the veterinarian. “The dog has cancer,” the veterinarian said. “It is in its final stages. He needs to be put down.”

The dog was put down. The old couple never left Hawaii. 

Individual Practice - Rachel Kudron

from "Unbecoming"

"I hate men! All of them! In all of their different shapes, sizes, and occupations!" My best friend, Stephanie, yells into the receiver. "I mean would it kill them to call or text of send a friggin' smoke signal three days after a date?"

"I take it Mr. Mark James isn't on your good list right now, is he?" I ask as I try to refrain from smiling.

"NO! He won't see that list for a very long time!" She sounds really beaten up about this.

"Listen, I'm sure he's been busy. Don't take it to heart. Look, I gotta go. Love ya."

"Yea, love you too. Later." The line goes dead.

I place my phone back in my purse that sits, waiting, in my shopping cart. I absentmindedly walk through the aisles half looking for canned green beans and half just enjoying being out of the house. It's been so long since I've been out on my own. Mom thought it would be too hard on me; that everyone would stare at my scars. But I just don't care. I'm just happy to be alive. And out.

As I pull into aisle eight, I see the canned corn, then the canned peas. The green beans must be next. Then I feel my cart crash into something. Just before the flashbacks can start, I duck my head, apologize to whoever or whatever I hit, and rush out of the aisle.

I turn the corner, and start to catch my breath. Maybe I should just leave. I examine my cart. I have almost everything I came or, plus more than I intended to get. And I don't really need green beans. I don't even like green beans. I look over my cart one more time. Yea, I'll just go.

Individual Practice - Jenna Guthmiller

from "Awake"

A light flickered. Her green eyes opened and she found herself staring at a gray sky. “Where am I this time?” she thought as she partially sat up, reclining on one slender forearm and brushing her brunette bangs back. A quick glance around her at the dilapidated, graffiti-covered warehouses looming overhead revealed the answer. 

Her eyes welled up and her heart sank. “Crap, not again. Why am I here? How long has it been?” As she took a deep, wracking breath to calm herself, the girl’s mind involuntarily flipped through her memories of that place in quick succession. Waiting on a black swing for her father who never came. Hugging Michayla for the last time. Rubbing an silver, oval locket in her hand.

She quickly pulled her legs under her and stood, a wry smile on her face. The girl recalled that she was known here as Raelyn. “I always did like that,” she thought. “but somehow it still doesn't seem to quite fit.” A light flickered. She glanced at the sky wondering if she had seen a flash of lightning but the sky was peaceful.

Sucking in and releasing another big gulp of air, Raelyn began to wind her way in between the buildings toward the heart of the swarming city. Her only option was to visit Lena, a middle-aged woman who lived in an apartment overlooking some local shops. “As much as I hate going to see her,” Raelyn thought, “she’s helpful when it comes to figuring out how long I’ve been gone and where I can find Evey. Lena is the one thing that remains constant. Well, there’s nothing for it. I am here.”

Screwing her face up into a sort of smile, Raelyn knocked. Almost as if she had known exactly when Raelyn would arrive, Lena slid the noisy deadbolt back, flung open the door, and pointed her cane, which she didn’t really need, at Raelyn. “Where in the world have you been for so long this time?” she demanded.

“Ooh, she is not happy. Not happy at all,” Raelyn silently noted. To Lena she replied, “I… well, let’s just say it’s the same old long story, shall we? May I come in?” A light flickered. Raelyn glanced over Lena’s shoulder into the shabby apartment and stared fixedly at the unlit dining room chandelier.

“That is completely unnecessary,” Lena retorted, pulling Raelyn out of her trance.. “You are just here to find out where that girl is. If she’s really your best friend why do you go running off on her like that?” Shaking her head, she continued, “Kids these days, so ridiculously irresponsible. Next time you got a hankering’ to go away for nearly two years you might want to, oh, I don’t know, tell her before you just disappear. Anyways, you should be able to find her at the same place. She hasn’t moved since you up and vanished.” With that she poked Raylen’s belly with the cane. “Go on now.”

Raelyn smiled in relief and made her way to the subway station, boarded a train, and got off after a few exits. "I can't wait to see Evey. She is the one of the only good things about this place. Everything else is just...painful," she mused as she walked two blocks over to the right and entered and older building.

Individual Practice - Zach Mendelson

King of Insects

Stylus-like fingers style like stingers—
Twisted fists twist bits; twist tattered tips to fits,
Inebriating yet alleviating.
A contamination of dreams,
Very similar to verisimilitude.


Calcareous caulking,
Carelessly calling,
Barely balking,
Bury us


The facetious transition,
Is a faceless transmission.
And one finds no shame,
In this selfish ambition;
This fashion for fishing.

Individual Practice - Jasper Biggs


The sun set as Alfred struggled to unlock his front door with shaking hands.  He could hear the parakeet calling from inside.  Did he feed her today?  He couldn’t remember.  He didn’t really remember having a parakeet, but then again, there were a number of things he didn’t remember.  He tried another key as he pushed his glasses further up his nose.  He set down his bag and tried to steady his hands.  Finally, the lock clicked and the door opened.  He walked inside and turned on the lights.  After making a cup of chamomile tea, he made his way upstairs and went to bed.  The following morning, he went out to get the paper.  There was a bag beside the door.  He took a look around to see if anyone had recently left it and then, concluding that it had been left for him during the night, he excitedly brought it inside.  Alfred emptied the bag one item at a time onto the kitchen table.  Whoever left this gift knew him very well.  He decided to arrange the things around his living room.  The lava lamp would look nice above the mantle.  His dear Martha—God rest her soul—would have loved its purple globs floating around in the amber liquid.  The navy sweater was just his size, and not only that, but it had a line of elk along the front.  He smiled in delight as he hung it up.  There was also a single place setting’s worth of brown stoneware dinnerware.  It perfectly matched his other dishes, and as he placed them in the cabinet, he realized that made a complete set.  Once again, the giver had known exactly what he needed—he had been one place short.  At the bottom of the bag, he found a number of old books and some records by Frank Sinatra.  He placed the books with some others on a shelf and started one of the albums.  With that, he put on his hat and went for a walk.  The sun was just setting when Alfred unlocked his front door with shaking hands.  He walked inside, sat down and turned on the news.  As he fell asleep, the anchor described a mysterious thief targeting antique stores.  Among the recently stolen items was an elk sweater, a lava lamp, a number of other strangely unrelated odds and ends, and a yellow parakeet.  

Individual Practice - Dan Fawcett

Car Keys

He's treated me poorly all these years. Stuffing me into his pocket - with the lint! I'll snap in half next time I'm in the ignition.


Duct Tape

They really screwed up this time. Punching a hole in the side of the universe isn't an easy fix. But I always patch everything up.


Melpomene mused more morosely.
“My maidens and menservants cannot
make me merry,” she cried melodically.

“Was that a minor key?” I thought.
I held my hand behind my ear. “It has to be.”
I listened, but surprisingly she did not.

I stretched my ear close, yet what I heard
Was wild and weird. It was not
Her normal, melancholy dirge.

“My mythic metaphors miss the mark.
I wish for inspiration.” And then two worlds merged.
“Mortal,” she meant me, “I want something dark.”

Could a more morbid command be given?
For the most malefic art.
To implant ideas in the mistress of depression?

- Dan Fawcett

Individual Practice - Emily Roulund

Burdened Shoulders

I walk through the streets
Carrying bags of stones on my shoulders.
Every now and then, they force me to my knees.
I cannot bear their weight long.

My bones are weary,
My shoulders bruised and cut
By the sharp corners of the rocks against my skin.
My knees - they are scarred, scraped and muddy,
And the wounds are filled with pebbles glued in with dried blood.
The ground is unforgiving.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Individual Practice - Mary Kate Reynolds

My name is Judas

If you have the choice
between immortality and a heart--
choose heart.

And if the cost of singing like the angels
comes through an instance of petty treachery--
pluck out your tongue.

When the beauty of the gods
comes to take you away,
run to the graveyard,
and live your life in ashes first.

You choose to walk away.

Choose, you insufferable blessed.

Choose that dishonored road,
soaked with love's blood at every step.

Love? I've never let it touch me since.

Individual Practice - Elaine Phillips


Individual Practice - Jennifer Ross

Accessory Cloud

When I look at the sky I see my mother's pie
Next to the pie, a glass of ice-cold milk

One week without my mom's cooking
I was at summer camp

Bugs in my bunk bed--
I hid in my sleeping bag

I brought lots of candy with me--
Without candy I would go crazy

With candy I get high
Giggles and stomach-grabbing churkles
My whole body jiggles
I could as well be Santa Claus

Egg product for scrambled eggs
Pancakes, supposedly cooked there on the stove
Taste like they came out of the microwave

Times like this I miss my mother's cooking
When I look to the sky I see her face grinning over me
Her heart a warm cinnamon roll

Individual Practice - Christian Bearup

The Liturgical Scent of Polycarp


Son of God adopted,
Odor of procession,
Greeting death, a rival,
Greeting censer, silver,
Bind yourself to swinging
Tomb of scented triumph.


Flame eat fire--God eat sinner!
Host of Christ--skin like timber!
Coals are hot--man won't die--
Sword in side.
Blood of saint--blood or wine?


My patron came and said to me,
"Your flesh is wounded, cruciform."
My devil came and said to me,
"From flesh let blessed soul be torn."

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Poem In Conversation with Joseph Cornell

This poem, by student Robbie Kirkendall, was written for two voices. Classmates Candace Arce-Lindsay and Juliet San Nicolas read it in class last week.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Juliet made the following video for this class, for her cross-genre conversation piece (#3): a film inspired by (and using lines from) Frank O'Hara's poetry.

“Anything that helps you to see. Anything that makes you look.”

Flannery O'Connor's cartoons, in The Paris Review.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Image Text Collaboration

The students were required to create a work that combines text and image with image to be privileged. They were to organize the work around the primary delivery structure or site of authority of image, ie, picture plane (canvas, photo paper, design field) or sculpture. The images and text could be their own or found.


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