Stay Tuned…

Tomorrow, I will be presenting some of my new work at Latin@ Cultural Studies at CUNY: Past, Present, & Future alongside my QC MFA colleagues. The conference will be held at LaGuardia CC, right off the 7 train. But if you can’t make it, no worries – I’ll be liveblogging the event.

Cheers, and siempre pa’lante! I can’t wait to share this event with you!

Another trip! (And art news!)

I really, really enjoyed my last trip to Manhattan; I enjoyed it so much, in fact, that I’m doing it again!

This weekend, I’ll be covering Silence Unbound, an exhibition and talk on silence, writing, and book art at The Center for Book Arts.

But what, you ask, is book art? Basically, it is any sort of art which takes on a book format, or which incorporates books. For example, you might create a book object consisting of both painting and poetry, or you might incorporate a book into a larger, mixed media installation (a sculpture with books, perhaps, or a mound of torn papers).

Book art is incredibly versatile; indeed, it can take on any format, and incorporate any muse. Take, for example, Jen Bervin’s work:

Detail. Jen Bervin, The Composite Marks of Fascicle 28. Sewn cotton batting backed with muslin. Taken from www.jenbervin.com.

Detail. Jen Bervin, The Composite Marks of Fascicle 28. Sewn cotton batting backed with muslin. Taken from www.jenbervin.com.

Indeed – through cotton, thread, needle, and mutilated book, Bervin explores Emily Dickinson’s fractured, passionate world. To see more of this fascinating project, click here. 

I am really, really excited about this trip; I’ve always wanted to create book art. Who knows – maybe I’ll get inspired!

The exhibition will be up through March 29, 2014. Definitely go check it out! And remember: Manhattan is only a 7 train ride away!

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To learn more about The Center for Book Arts, click here. 

Comments? Recommendations? Ideas for a trip? Let me know!

Hello again!

Hello all! Welcome back!

My break was fantastic – I wrote poems, visited family, and held a blue sea urchin – but I am nevertheless ecstatic, truly ecsatic, to be here.

As always, there is plenty of art on campus; below, you’ll find a tidy list of great events.

I know – we’re all terribly, terribly busy, not to mention tired. I, for one, just lugged a mountain of new books across campus. (Ouch.) However, I really urge you to drop in on a few of these events – art, as we all know, is refreshing, inspiring, and life-giving. And who knows – maybe you’ll get an idea for that paper!

Cheers, and see you around! Also, feel free to recommend an event!

Literary Legacies: Terrance Hayes and Lynn Emanuel

What: Hayes and Emanuel will read from their extraordinary poetic repertoire. Don’t miss this!

When: February 5, 2014. The event will begin at 6:30.

Where: Godwin-Ternbach Museum.

Queens College Art Faculty Exhibition

What: A showcase of art by members of the Queens College Art Department. Come out and support your professor!

When: The exhibition opens February 13.

Where: Godwin-Ternbach Museum.

Vikings | In Perpetuum III

What: An exhibition that explores the Vikings through the lens of contemporary trade.

When: The exhibition opens February 3.

Where: Queens College Art Center (6th floor of the Rosenthal Library).

Ballet Hispanico

What: A performance of classical, Latin, and contemporary dance. You know I’ll be there!

When: Saturday, February 8, 2014 through Sunday, February 9, 2014, 8:00 pm.

Where: Goldstein Theatre at Kupferberg Center for the Arts

Note: This is a ticketed event.

E.L. Doctorow with Leonard Lopate

What: The pre-eminent writer E.L. Doctorow will read from his work, and will be interviewed.

When: Tuesday, February 25, at 7pm.

Where: LeFrak Concert Hall.

5 Pointz Is Gone – Is Queens Next?

5 Pointz is gone.

5 Pointz, today. Image from nypost.com.

5 Pointz, today. Image from nypost.com.

White paint, dead art. Gentrification at its finest.

5 Pointz was desecrated as we slept; the words, the colors, and the faces, defiant, were wiped away as we curled into our dreams. We are left with a dry, bleached shell of a museum; we are left with a sanitized emptiness.

The destruction. Image from stupiddope.com.

The destruction. Image from stupiddope.com.

But soon, even this will be taken from us; eventually, the shell will be torn down, and a luxury condominium will take its place. A bruise on top of a bruise.

I’ve lived in Queens my whole life; I’ve watched it grow, change, and ripen.

Now, I am witnessing a sort of disintegration – that is, a wiping away, a banishing of art, of unruliness, and, most importantly, of working class neighborhoods, institutions, and landmarks.

To whom does this borough belong?

I am no longer certain.

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For more information about 5 Pointz, click here.

For more information about the demolition, click here.

Stay tuned: I will be following this story closely over the coming weeks.

Angry? Sad? Unaffected? Have any ideas for action? Let me know!

Exhibition: The Librarians at the Queens College Art Center

Friday is my library day. I wake up; I come over, I look for a quiet, comfortable spot; I settle down, and I read for hours. Plots unfold, and characters grow; before I know it, I’ve reached the final pages, and it’s already dark outside. Time flies when you’re at the library.

What is a library? For me, it is a place of imagination – a place of books, of discovery, and of endless time. Of course, everyone has their own definition; everyone has their own library experience.

Few, however, have much experience with librarians; they, indeed, are a mystery to many. What does a librarian do? What is it like to work in that bustling point of imagination?

The Librarians does not try to answer my questions; rather, it complicates them, destabilizes them. Indeed – this dizzying conglomerate of objects, paintings, and assorted installation pieces challenges our understanding of libraries, and of their keepers.

I was struck, for example, by a number of rough, colorful paintings of faces; they are bruise-like, deep scars on an otherwise smooth surface. Are they smiling? Sneering? Are they librarians? Or are they patrons? Students? I am unsure; I begin to question my own place within the library. Am I merely a patron? Or am I also part of the library? Am I, by virtue of my gaze, my reading, a librarian? Are we all librarians?

I was also intrigued by an installation of thin, multi-colored papers, all of which bore names and titles; as they progressed, slowly, from left to right, their colors began to fade, to run, as though the printer had run out of ink.

Is knowledge, then, fading? Are books a relic? Are they, and libraries, doomed to obsolescence, to blankness? Or will that printer be restocked? Will the vibrant pages return? Again, I am unsure.

Sprinkled throughout the exhibition are the tools, the trappings of the librarian; diagrams litter the glass windows, and an entire apparatus – a desk, computer, stack of books – sits, idly, by the exit. I wonder why they are here; I wonder if they are an anchor, a point of reference, or if they destabilize my experience further.

Ultimately, I am left puzzled – and wanting to speak to a librarian. Indeed, I want to know more – I want to know how that apparatus works, and, more broadly, what a librarian actually does.

This exhibit is a treasure; it has drawn me in to a world I had always overlooked. Definitely go see it – and go talk to a librarian!

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To learn more about this exhibit, click here.

The Queens College Art Center is located on the 6th floor of Rosenthal Library. Go visit!

Biala: Vision and Memory

As I step in to Biala: Vision and Memory, I am greeted by fracture – a noise, a rustling, an oceanic groan. It recedes, it fades; it reappears, a foam-wave. And I realize, as I make my way upstairs, that I am listening to motion – to paint, to brushstrokes, to Biala herself, all arm and spine and deft hands, her brow furrowed, brow shining. This is what painting sounds like, feels like – and I, too, will paint for hours, the tip of my paintbrush darting like a bird, my muscles taut like ropes. Indeed, I am stepping into Biala’s studio – into my old studio, into any artist’s studio – here, at the Godwin-Ternbach museum.

Biala: Vision and Memory is ultimately a hybrid exhibition – a riveting mix of sound, painting, literature, and photography – and rightfully so, as Janice Biala’s decades-long career was as varied as it was successful. Born in 1903, in Poland, Biala rose to prominence as an abstract expressionist painter. She contributed immensely, and irrevocably, to modernism; her ground-breaking work encompassed a range of subjects, stylistic choices, moods, and media.

Upstairs, at the start of the exhibition, I first encounter “Bull and Toreadors in the Arena.” As I look onto that bull-fighting scene, I note how omniscient, how sumptuous my gaze is; with one glance, I take in an entire arena, a deluge of life and violence. How different, indeed, from “Blackbird” – here, I see only fragments, beams of light and lush feathers, an energetic and disparate mass, a harried flight.

Two different modes of seeing, of vision, and two types of memory – the all-encompassing versus the small, the full versus the shattered. Neither one victorious; neither one is greater than the other. Rather, they coexist – they breathe, together, in this space of wide angles and multiplicity.

When I go downstairs, I am immediately drawn to “Paris Façade” – a portrait, a study of half-closed windows, of curtains, of opacity. Here, my vision is occulted – I do not see what goes on in these cozy rooms. But I am nevertheless intrigued; I am captivated by that lack of vision, of knowing, that rich interior life which I will not, and cannot, grasp. I have encountered yet another kind of vision – a vision of the downcast gaze, of the hidden, of the intricate and loving silent.

And after that ecstatic interiority, that quietness, we experience a sudden and jarring shift in vision – in “The Flower Pots,” we encounter a woman, her face turned, glancing (we think) at that very same row of half-closed windows. Here, we gaze at a gazer; her eyes are unknown to us; her lips are a mystery; we do not know what she feels, what she thinks. She, too, is a rich interior, a calm sea. We find, then, two interlocking interiorities, two winding silences, two modes of not-seeing – this, indeed, is the brilliance of Biala.

The Flower Pots, Janice Biala. From www.janicebiala.com.

The Flower Pots, Janice Biala, 1985. From www.janicebiala.com.

I leave the Godwin-Ternbach with notes, coffee, and expanded vision. Undoubtedly, I will return this exhibit like I would a half-dried painting – with awe, with creativity, and with a desire to ask, to know and not know, to see and to remember.

For more information on Janice Biala, visit www.janicebiala.com.

For more information on the Godwin-Ternbach Museum, visit http://qcpages.qc.cuny.edu/godwin_ternbach/.