Saturday, July 18, 2009

Ekphrasis Workshop

Today is the ekphrasis workshop at the Portland Art Museum with instructor Joseph Bradshaw. As part of the workshop he chose six pieces for a tour. One of these is Megan Murphy's Pause. The first question we tackled was the mood, and somber was the answer. We discussed the kind of music it would play, had it a tune. We looked into and around it. Then I gave the background information. Something is so nice about holding out on that for a while, to give the piece a chance to speak.
When Joseph held his hand up to "Pause" Laura, one of the participants, said "I can see your reflection in the mirror" and we all took a breath in. His shadow was large and black against the greenish gray paint, but even closer to his body than it's shadow was the very subtle reflection of him in the mirror.
A piece that stands right next to Pause was also included in today's tour, it is Almanac by Marie Watt.

I had so many things to say about this piece by the artist who calls herself "a Cowboy and an Indian" having both Wyoming rancher and Seneca turtle clan roots. The thing people noticed that I hadn't considered was how the stack of blankets is precarious and imbalanced. How it looks like it could topple over and crush you. When we walked around it I noticed for the first time how a stack of blankets made of bronze seemingly totters atop the blankets made of wool. It really is quite disconcerting. Which is why the calm and serene presence of Pause on the adjacent wall balances out the area in just the perfect way.

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