What did you think an artist would pick up on from your poem?
Poet Jericho Brown: The nun.
What inspires you in this poem?
Artist Stacy Isenbarger: I was struck by the rigor and weight of both letting go & holding on. While responding I considered a stain in reflection of a used vessel waiting in expectation. In my sketches this manifested itself in the form of a cloaked figure with open hands in wait. The applied concrete, stitched lines, and counting pencil marks became signifiers for the repetitive heaviness I felt through the poem.
Did the visual artist refract any element of the poem that made you see the poem differently?
Poet Jericho Brown: I think the visual helps me to see sadness as more of a prison than a weight.
When you began this piece, was it color, shape, or some other aspect that you followed? Did that change?
Artist Stacy Isenbarger: Repetitive sets of vertical lines held the composition together from start to finish and are meant to offer a sense of waiting and expectation. The contrast between the gold paint & more structured dark magenta rectangular form resting just below open hands formally provide a structure of conflict and are meant to communicate tension of hierarchy.
What surprised you about this collaborative piece?
Poet Jericho Brown: Is that barbed wire?
Artist Stacy Isenbarger: Not much. As the artist, I think I had I less to envision in this merger.
Describe the collaboration in one word.
Poet Jericho Brown: Broadening
Artist Stacy Isenbarger: Arduous
How does literature fit into your creative life as a visual artist?
Artist Stacy Isenbarger: I gravitate towards visual art because I don’t seek to find the right words for communication; instead, I hope to inspire others to find verbal responses to what I do. I want my imagery to make folks consider the ways in which they navigate their personal environment and cultural expectations. But as I navigate my various approaches of conceptualization, I often find lines within texts that challenge me to create visual/physical boundary for viewers to consider further. Without literature providing these strangely concrete barriers of consideration, I won’t have as much potency to render in my work.
Have you ever written work that has been inspired by visual art? What was that experience like for you? Why were you inspired to do so?
Poet Jericho Brown: Much of what I write begins as ekphrasis and allows me to reorganize my thinking in ways that require me to see the world through someone else’s eyes.
If the Broadsided collaboration were a piece of music, what would it be?
Poet Jericho Brown: Renee Fleming’s “Amazing Grace.”
Artist Stacy Isenbarger: I’m not exactly sure, but I think Damien Rice would be singing it after some religious awakening or new understanding.
Read any good books lately?
Poet Jericho Brown: Matt Siegel’s Blood Work is beautiful!
Artist Stacy Isenbarger: Mary Szybist’s Incarnadine—more, please!—and enjoying my way through Victoria Finlay’s Colorcurrently.
Seen any good art lately?
Artist Stacy Isenbarger: Just visited the Mattress Factory in Pittsburgh for the first time this January. I highly suggest a visit to all who can make it. Works by Danny Bracken & Kathleen Montgomery where my highlights this visit—fantastic work.
Artist Stacy Isenbarger: I want to extend a special shout out to all those Broadsided Press exhibitioners/vectors out there! Thanks for getting these collaborations out beyond your computer screen.