What made you think of Broadsided for this poem?
Poet Christina Olson: This poem in particular seemed like an amazing candidate for a visual representation. Mastodons are long-dead, so all we have are bones and reconstructions. I wanted an artistic (read: not necessarily scientifically accurate) representation, and I was not disappointed by Cheryl’s work!
What surprised you about this collaborative piece?
Poet Christina Olson: All the elements of mastodons and proboscideans that pop up in the piece. The longer you look at it, the more fragments emerge.
Artist Cheryl Gross: The relationship between Jefferson and Sally Hemmings.
What inspires you in this poem? What drew you to it?
Artist Cheryl Gross: I am involved in a project called: Commit to Memory: The Precipice of Extinction. The poem talks about the past and mentions two aspects of elephant history, which are extinct. Then it goes onto talk about a relationship that is past, but not necessarily in the forefront.
Describe your dream “vectorization”—where, in your wildest dreams, would you most like to see this broadside posted in the world?
Poet Christina Olson: Anyplace where there’s a captive audience that can’t access their phones for other distraction. What’s that in 2019? A jury duty waiting room? An MRI machine? Man, this answer makes me sound like a dictator. Also, yes to Mars.
Artist Cheryl Gross: I don’t know so much about the world. Possibly another planet. Mars or Mercury would be nice.
If this broadside were a type of weather, what would it be?
Poet Christina Olson: That first rainy weekend in fall when you have to turn the heat on in the house.
Artist Cheryl Gross: Spring and Fall
Read any good books lately?
Poet Christina Olson: If this broadside is your jam, you need to go read Elena Passarello’s Animals Strike Curious Poses. Or Lucia Perillo.
Artist Cheryl Gross: Your Duck is My Duck, by Deborah Eisenberg; Cute, by Simon May.
Seen any good art lately?
Poet Christina Olson: There’s an installation of work by Dan Funderburgh on our campus that I keep wandering over to.
Artist Cheryl Gross: Eva Held, John Chamberlain, Jim Pustorino.
Anything else? (Here, we invite the collaborators to invent a question, add a comment, or otherwise speak to what the questions so far have not tapped about their Broadsided experience).
Poet Christina Olson: This project—a series of poems based on mastodons—is one of the stranger things I’ve done and it’s my favorite to date. If you have an idea for a project and it feels weird, that’s a good thing.
Artist Cheryl Gross: Illustrating poetry is an interesting task. I am primarily a concrete thinker and for the most part I interpret written text literally. I combine the poet’s words with representational and abstract design that often surprises me. It’s the imagery that I’m after which at times is not necessarily what the poet had intended.