What do Zuppa Toscana, red Chuck Taylors, and Graham crackers have in common?
More than you might think.
They all appear in poems from students in Dr. Colette Tennant’s Poetry Writing class, and they all help portray this year’s theme for the Fusion Art Show: “Pitch the Sky.”
Every year, Dr. Tennant selects ten lines from her students’ poems: quirky lines, unusual lines, lines that convey a striking image. Students then vote on which line should represent the annual theme for the art show.
This year, the line “pitch the sky” was selected from Eli Welter’s poem “bright lights in a black sea.”
Dr. Tennant shares, “We chose the title ‘Pitch the Sky’ because it captures the eclectic, unpredictable, light-filled mixture of art that happens when these three genres [poetry, photography, and painting] are combined.”
This same eclectic, unpredictable, light-filled quality can be seen in a photograph of deconstructed zuppa Toscana (Tucker Mcnie), in the grey laces of the Chuck Taylors which suddenly one day snapped (Olivia Schmidt), in the boxes of graham crackers piling window-high in the back of a Rover (Josiah Kroontje).
But what, exactly, is the Fusion Art Show?
Each year, Dr. Tennant’s poetry students select one of their best poems to serve as inspiration for two other students to paint and photograph. These students then create visual artistic representations of their assigned poem—a little like ekphrasis in reverse. Sometimes the translation between poem and visual art is literal, sometimes symbolic, and sometimes it requires an explanation by the artists themselves, as they tell the story of how and why they created what they did.
This year, the Fusion Art Show will represent works by 55 students, all of which will be compiled in a book, available for purchase at the show ($15 regular price, $10 for students).
Together, these works show what can happen when students collaborate and allow themselves to be inspired by one another. Indeed, several of the poems are in turn modeled after works by well-known poets, including Billy Collins and Maya Angelou.
The poems, photographs, and paintings are currently on display in the Psalm Visual Arts Gallery, where you can take your time enjoying them before the reading on Thursday, March 1. At the reading (to be held in the Psalm Center from 7–8:30 p.m.), poets will present their works, and painters and photographers will describe their process and the concept behind their artistic representation.
In addition, prizes will be given: Best Poem, Best Painting, and Best Photograph, as well as a range of quirky prizes—there will even be an award for “Painting that Poe would be most likely to buy at a garage sale.”
Don’t miss the opportunity to see these talented students’ work come to life on March 1!
But, in the words of Holly Wiegand,
For now, I wear poetry
like a cloak—stockpiled,
sutured, and grafted.
- From her poem “I will never be Frank O’Hara”
The Fusion Art Show Reading is on Thursday, March 1, from 7–8:30 p.m.