Material: Photographs, Ink drawings on paper & cotton fabric, Prints on screens
NOTES ON THE EXHIBITION: SUNDAY IN THE PARK, inspired by William Carlos Williams. My work, takes its cue from William Carlos Williams’ Paterson,... Read More
NOTES ON THE EXHIBITION: SUNDAY IN THE PARK, inspired by William Carlos Williams.
My work, takes its cue from William Carlos Williams’ Paterson, Book II, “Sunday in the Park.” Book II is a walk in the park observing, reflecting and commenting on the diversity of the city and its inhabitants as it is laid out before him.
William Carlos Williams was born and died in Rutherford, NJ (September 17, 1883 - March 4, 1963). He was the elder son of a Puerto Rican mother and an English father who had lived and worked in the Caribbean for many years. His parents met in the Dominican Republic through his mother’s brother, Carlos, a physician in Puerto Plata. Their son, William, became a medical doctor and a poet—plus, novelist, short story writer, essayist, translator and playwright.
Williams was complex and bicultural. He spoke Spanish in his childhood home but chose English in his public life, practice and writings. Throughout his long, five-volume, epic poem Paterson and specifically in Book II, “Sunday in the Park,” Williams speaks of multiplicity and complexity—currently referred to as diversity. William Carlos Williams worked to find a balance between his William and Carlos identities.
The exhibit opens with excerpts from The Dog and the Fever, a 17th century novella by Pedro Espinosa; and “Prelude in Boricua[i]” by Luis Palés Matos. Both had a profound influence on Williams. As Jonathan Cohen describes in the introduction of a new edition of The Dog and the Fever,[ii], “conceptismo with a Jersey twist”[iii], its play of spoken language affected Williams writing of Paterson.
Williams found in Palés a “spiritual brother,”[iv] as described by Julio Marzán, “who understood that the spirit of a culture resides in the local idiom, the popular speech, ….”[v]
Cohen wrote, “He [Williams] aimed to bring the meaning of the Spanish text into the English spoken in the United States, what he famously called the American idiom. He was committed to using real speech with its distinctive rhythms and colorations.”[vi]
In this exhibit, the textured scrims floating ephemeral draw upon the ideas repeated through this specific part of the poem that calls upon Garret Mountain: escarpment, voices, blocked, invention, and multiplicity. By “Walking,” observing people, the narrator describes the place and the scene before him. It is “---late spring,/a Sunday afternoon!”[vii]
Williams begins Section I asserting “Outside/outside myself/ there is a world,/he rumbled, subject to my incursions/---a world… which I approach/concretely---” While in Section II the mood changes dramatically “Blocked,/ (Make a song out of that: concretely)/By whom?”
The floor-mounted panels are sketches – walks of my impressions of Garret Mountain and Paterson, drawn from the poem or other related sources. The scrim and panels alter rhythms contrapuntal relationship between words and images.
The clef series of panels with multiple images describe various walks. The images are irregularly grouped, like snap-shots, along a path to a particular place, with changing pace.
The large photographic assemblages evoke layers of experience and a particular way of encountering a place. The complexity of a place often presents itself as a blend of identifiably representational forms and non-representational forms, a jumble of images and thoughts as we walk. We often construct our own picture of a place, which often moves towards an abstract or inexact picture of a place.
The drawings are part of the nature of Garret Mountain. Drawn from nature - a personal expression as to the scale and character of the place. Working with the actual material of the place, rock rubbings, upon which the Park grows; ink drawings made with pinecones and tree bark-“searching the punk-dry rot”[ix] and “the movement of one voice among the rest.”[x]
[i] Luis Palés Matos, “Prelude in Boricua,” in By Word of Mouth Poems from the Spanish 1916-1959, translated from the Spanish by William Carlos Williams, compiled and edited by Jonathan Cohen.
[ii] Pedro Espinosa, The Dog and the Fever; A Perambulatory Novella, translated from the Spanish by William Carlos Williams, edited and with an Introduction by Jonathan Cohen.
[iii] From Introduction, Pedro Espinosa, The Dog and the Fever; A Perambulatory Novella, translated from the Spanish by William Carlos Williams, edited and with an Introduction by Jonathan Cohen.
[iv] The Spanish American Roots of William Carlos Williams, Julio Marzán.
[vi] From Introduction, Pedro Espinosa, The Dog and the Fever; A Perambulatory Novella, translated from the Spanish by William Carlos Williams, edited and with an Introduction by Jonathan Cohen.