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Download “Niece”

Collaborators’ Q&A

What inspires you in this poem?
Artist Cheryl Gross: “Niece” reminded me of my childhood, growing up as a tomboy. Split gender, not quite fitting in.

What did you think an artist would pick up on from your poem?
Poet Jennifer Gravley: I’ve learned not to really guess—my local art league has an annual event where visual artists and writers are paired and produce works inspired by each other’s work, which I’ve participated in a couple of times. You can never guess what’s going to come out of that partnership!

When you began this piece, was it color, shape, or some other aspect that you followed? Did that change?
Artist Cheryl Gross: It was the design of the piece. I saw it immediately. I envisioned it the moment I read the poem. I started to illustrate it before I got the go ahead.

What surprised you when you saw the poem and art together?
Artist Cheryl Gross: The simplicity.
Poet Jennifer Gravley: The halved people–which really shouldn’t have been surprising, but there you go.

How does literature fit into your creative life as a visual artist?
Artist Cheryl Gross: It goes hand in hand.

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 Jennifer Gravley: In the “Interpretations” show I referenced above, I’ve been matched with sculptors. I don’t think of myself as a very visual person, so it was a challenge! But I think art—and writing—are about feeling, so that’s what I work from and toward.

Describe the collaboration in one word.
Artist Cheryl Gross: Nostalgic
Poet Jennifer Gravley: Halved

If the Broadsided collaboration were a piece of music, what would it be?
Artist Cheryl Gross: Bad Moon Rising
Poet Jennifer Gravley: “Just a Girl,” No Doubt

Read any good books lately?
Artist Cheryl Gross: My Favorite Thing Is Monsters by Emil Ferris and Theft By Finding by David Sedaris.
Poet Jennifer Gravley: The Burning Girl by Claire Messud and The Blackbird Season by Kare Moretti

Seen any good art lately?
Artist Cheryl Gross: Club 57: Film, Performance, and Art in the East Village 1978-1983 over at MoMA
Poet Jennifer Gravley: I saw a fabulous show of women surrealists at a local gallery, and I’ve started following museums and ballet companies on Instagram. It’s neat to be able to see what’s going on in the broader art world, even if I’m in the middle of the middle of nowhere!

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).
Artist Cheryl Gross: When a poet sees an artist’s interpretation of their poem, what is their first reaction? Are they usually pleased? Do they feel it’s a good fit? Do they feel the artist “got” the meaning of the poem? Would they choose different art that they feel is a better fit?
Poet Jennifer Gravley: I think “Interesting!” is usually my first response. I wouldn’t choose any other piece–why try to subvert the process, which is a visual representation of the individual interpretation that takes places with any piece of writing anyway? Any responsibility the artist feels for the writer should be reciprocated!


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