Verse to Image Exhibit: the poet has come back

Kathryn V. Crabbe. 2012. The Poet Has Come Back. Drypoint etching and monoprint, 13 x 26 inches My newest hand pulled fine art print is a combination etching and monoprint. It was created for the "Verse to Image Exhibition" at the Riverside Community Arts Association Center in Riverside, California.

This exhibit features members of the Printmakers Network affiliated with the Riverside Art Museum and explores the connections and spaces between literature and the plastic arts with displays of writing that have inspired the artists' works on view.

My print was inspired by Margaret Atwood's poem The Poet Has Come Back and by a quote about rebellion from Chris Hedge's book Death of the Liberal Class.

Atwood's poem talks about the god of poets having two hands, "the dexterous and the sinister" which actually refers to the left and right hands, something of great interest for me due to five years spent painting and drawing exclusively with my non dominant left hand in early 2000. Atwood's lines below were explored in the print I created.

The poet has come back to being a poet after decades of being virtuous instead...Welcome back, my dear. Time to resume our vigil, time to unlock the cellar door.

To understand humanities intuitive, 'primitive' past I looked to the earliest known drawings (and prints) created some 35,000 years ago in the Chauvet Caves of Southern France. (see image to the left) I also took notes and made sketches from Werner Herzog's 2010 documentary film, Cave of Forgotten Dreams for which he was granted the rare privilege of filming inside the caves.

I also investigated the groundbreaking work of archaelogist, Marija Gimbutas who explored Neolithic Goddess culture, mythology, linguistics and folklore in her book The Language of the Goddess. Gimbutas writes:

Hands and feet symbolize the touch of the Goddess; they impart her energy.

The color red is the symbol of life.

Figurines occasionally have enormous hands seemingly imparting divine energy or spells.

Chauvet Cave - handprints

In the Chauvet Caves are walls containing two different kinds of palm prints, one kind was made by pressing the fleshy round part of the palm of a hand onto the wall's surface and the other by spraying the color red around the hand.

In my etching/monoprint I made a full hand print (in black) using my right hand to represent the left brain dominant, logical society of today and another print (in red) using the fleshy base of my left palm to represent the intuitive, right brained world of our Paleolithic ancestors. In between the two hand prints I printed an etching of a root like symbol to connect the two worlds; both the rational, present day society and our intuitive past.

It is important that we, as a culture are presented with a vision of this possibility. We need to acknowledge and face our shadow side, our fears, our left hand and yes, stand vigil at the cellar door so that once again the poet has two hands, the dexterous and the sinister.

This piece also symbolizes how important the role of the artist and our imagination can be, especially in today's society. By making our mark, by critical thinking, skepticism and risk taking I ask each one of you to consider how important art, the imagination and the artist can be in North America today.

We must always learn from and study the example of other peoples throughout the world, but we do have to analyze our own conditions here in the belly of the beast. We, as conscious artists, must combat the torrent of mind-control with a real alternative - murals, songs, dance, poetry that contain different values and have educational content as well as beauty...everything is political.

Miranda Bergman, Mural, Mural on the Wall from Art on the Line, Essays by Artists about the Point Where Their Art & Activism Intersect, Edited by Jack Hirschman

VERSE TO IMAGE EXHIBITION Riverside Community Arts Association Center Riverside, California Exhibition dates: March 22 – April 21 Reception: April 5, 6-9pm (during Riverside Arts Walk)

Art on the Line: Where Activism & Art Intersect

Firebird. Acrylic & charcoal on canvas, 48 x 48 inches. © 2012 by Kathy Crabbe I've been reading a lot about revolution these days trying to figure out how I, as an artist can make a difference and contribute socially to our society and often I feel quite hopeless until I listen to what women artist activists have to say and then I start to feel hope again; for art, artists, and for humanity. Here's an example of what I mean. Below is a quotation by Gale Jackson, librarian, storyteller and historian from the book Art on the Line

"We're talking about human education here. That's when you talk about seizing traditional forms, the arts, traditional forms of reaching people, and turning them modern and figuring out how to teach these lessons again because somehow people have watched too many commercials not realizing that culturally, or through the lack thereof, we've been pushed to the brink of survival, against the wall, literally to the edge of the fatal possibilities of the world we're living in. Somehow you have to reach people and bring them back, mindful that peace will only come with justice. That eye for eye for eye could go on and on. Somehow you have to reach people 'cause we have to talk. There are a lot of things that, for starters, we need to learn and remember. A lot of history has been taken away from people and one of the first restitutions would be to begin to restore. People's very stories have been taken away, made inaccessible, till we don't all know who we are. Culturally. Till we don't have no home. Real or metaphoric. Then there is all that is going on that is not being told. The news. Our country's not-so-covert wars. In my work as a writer, as a librarian, I be finding that people don't know. This tragedy of repetition. When it becomes clear that culture, art information, is first and foremost political, it is clear that people need to use that to reach and teach. To explore. People need to know. To imagine. To know." ~ Gale Jackson, Art on the Line, Essays by Artists about the Point Where Their Art and Activism Intersect

Links: Art on the Line ~ edited by Jack Hirschman Gale Jackson Chris Hedges ~ Truth Dig Revolution Truth

My painting, Firebird (above) expresses the fiery passion and hope that burns brightly within my soul; it depicts the spark within us that can never die or be extinguished even through death.