What happens when you lock a painter and a poet in a room together and make them stare at each other? Things get ekphrastic, that's what. And quickly.
It's simply Nature's way of making sure that art makes more art. It's nothing to be ashamed of. It's beautiful.
Which is why we want to do it in public.
We're going to talk about it, too. Yes, right now.
Ekphrasis is what happens when a writer writes about a different art form—painting, or photography are popular candidates—creating language in response to an interpretation of the subject. It's an old mode of writing, probably only a little younger than writing itself, and there are many famous examples in poetry: W.H. Auden's "Musée des Beaux Arts," Yusef Komunyakaa's "Facing It," Allen Ginsberg's "Cezanne's Ports," Keats's "Ode on a Grecian Urn." That's barely even getting started. Entire journals are devoted to this art-call-poetry-response mode of expression. Ekphrasis is everywhere. You probably have ekphrastic friends and don't even know it.
Artists and poets were paired based solely on their work. We sent a collection of poetry to the artists, who'd never met the poets, and had them choose a poem or two they found compelling. Then the artists sent images of their art to the poets and the poets made their choices. And that's where we are now. The work is in progress and artists are talking to each other, exchanging ideas, and working in a mutually creative way, without ever having met face-to-face. If it's wrong, we don't want to be right.
Mod Melange has been doing shows on a shoestring in both New York and LA, and they've been very successful undertakings, doing the job of giving young artists needed exposure, getting their work into the world. Adding poets to the mix increases the size and variety of the show without diluting attention to the art, creates a bit of dramatic tension (poets! with artists? people watching?!), and affords a real opportunity for talented writers to benefit from a venue normally reserved for the visual set. If we get a little press, so much the better for everyone involved.
Our budget is still shoestring, but it covers the costs of renting a space in LA, setting it up and painting it, mounting the art and the poetry side-by-side, setting up equipment and an area for a reading, and making the whole show look, sound and feel like a show. We set up over one long night, do the show the next, and tear down after that, but the results are always positive. The artists benefit and that, as we all know, is another way art makes more art.
Any money saved from our set budget, or acquired in excess of our stated requirements, will be applied to future Mod Melange shows, beginning with a version of the Ekphrasis Exhibition in New York. What do these shows look like? Check out the next paragraph.
See videos and photos of art and previous shows at the Mod Melange Web site (http://www.modmelange.com). The Entasis literary journal (http://www.entasisjournal.com), an online journal that covers poetry, fiction and original artwork, will also be involved, publishing some of the art and poetry pairings online. The Mod Melange shows are important opportunities for the artists, and based on the responses from this show's participants so far, we believe this is going to yield amazing results.
In advance to all supporters, we'd like to extend a heartfelt thank you.
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