Creativity itself is examined in an exhibit opening at The Confluence: Art in Twisp on Friday (March 4). “Inspired,” curated by Merry Maxwell and Jennifer Molesworth, spotlights the organic nature of the creative process through visual art stemming from the written word and poetry as a response to paintings, sculptures and photography.
“It’s like two shows in one,” Molesworth said. “When we put out the call for art we sent out 20 or so poems from Confluence Poets, with instructions to the artists to pick one of those poems and make a piece of art responding to it.”
Molesworth said that artists had the option to not pick one of the poems but instead to incorporate their own words into their visual art, or to select a poem not included in the initial call.
“It resulted in some cool collaborations,” Molesworth said, using as an example a piece of art created by Hannah Viano that includes poem fragments written by poet-dramatist Cindy Williams Gutiérrez.
Molesworth also collaborated with a poet on an art piece. Molesworth once told a friend a childhood memory of walking through whale bones with her father; the friend remembered that story for years and later wrote “Whale Bones,” a poem that then inspired a watercolor painting response from Molesworth.
In a press release, The Confluence refers to these types of collaborations as “a call and response to visual and written sources of inspiration: the translation of words to the visual realm and translation of the visual back to words.”
Molesworth called the exhibit “interactive and dynamic.”
“We’re not just going to hang the show and that’s that,” she said. “Once the art is hung, some of the Confluence Poets will walk through the gallery and write poems that respond to the art.
Those poems will be shared in a free reading, open to the public, on April 1 from 7-9 p.m. There will also be one area in the gallery that will be a blackboard wall, for gallery visitors to write their own words and poems on.
Confluence Poets whose work may be featured in the exhibit include Subhaga Crystal Bacon, Ken Bevis, Easton Branam, Cindy Williams Gutiérrez, Teresa Hayden, Christine Kendall, Merry Maxwell, Kelleigh McMillan, Eileen “Sam” Owen, Julianne Seeman and Greg Wright. Visual artists featured in the exhibit are Maggie Anderson, Dan Brown, Greg Caudell, Janet Fagan, Sally Kuperberg, Sherry Malotte, Paula Mackrow, Merry Maxwell, Jennifer Molesworth, Anne Peck, Mary Powell, Ken Smith and Hannah Viano.
Molesworth called out in particular a poem called “Coyote” by Christine Kendall. “A lot of artists responded to that one,” she said.
Molesworth also noted that work written through Icicle Fund’s two Conservation, History, and Arts residencies in 2020 and 2021 is represented in the exhibit through Bacon’s poetry and Maxwell’s art and poetry. The goal of the residencies was to “honor, celebrate and record the unique environmental aspects of [the Methow River] and [the Wenatchee River], inspired by revisiting past work created by poet William Stafford.”
“It’s pretty cool to see visual art being inspired by written words,” Molesworth said. “I think some of this work will continue long after the show is over.”
In Community Gallery
Concurrently, “Art for the Anthropocene,” a solo show by Claire Sianna Seaman, will hang in The Confluence’s Community Gallery. The exhibit challenges audiences to understand their relationship to the environment and process a changing world.
“In the face of immense social and environmental change, where do we stand?” a press release asks. “From Climate Strikes to road signs to the salmon in the rivers, everything is connected, and we get to decide where we see the beauty.”
The Confluence will host an opening for “Inspired” and “Art for the Anthropocene” on Saturday (March 4) from 5-7 p.m. The opening and the exhibits, available through April 15, are free to the public. The Confluence is open 10 a.m-5 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday. For more information visit www.confluencegallery.org or call (509) 997-2787.