By MICHELLE SCHMIDT
That’s what Moscow artist Laurel Macdonald wondered after reading about such a project in New Zealand. It was nearly a year ago that she decided to find out and a Feb. 20 opening and poetry reading celebrates the result of the back-and-forth conversation.
The project began last March with a theme — “Ecology of Desire” — which was selected by Georgia Tiffany. The theme was given to Idaho poet laureate Ron McFarland, who produced the opening poem. The poem then went to George Wray, a retired University of Idaho art professor, who created a visual response to the poem. And on it went.
Each week the dialogue advanced from poet to artist and artist to poet until it was completed in December. By coordinating the exchange, Macdonald ensured that the only creative context each person had was the stated theme and the work — whether poem or art piece — in front of them.
“It totally evolved over time,” Macdonald said. What started with a lake scene, moved to an animal theme, romantic or sensual theme and ends with environmental leanings. The result, she said, is fluid and organic.
After the project was completed, Val Boydo, a graphic designer at Washington State University, compiled the work into a portable form. The pocket-size booklet sells for $22 at BookPeople of Moscow and, according to Macdonald, is intended to be one souvenir visitors to the Palouse can take home besides bags of lentils.
Each collaborator only had one week to produce a response to the work they received. Because they were not involved in the exchange, tonight’s opening will be the first time that many of them will meet. Besides producing a creative work, this was one of the main goals of the project.
“One of our objectives was to introduce the poets and artists, to get some interaction between the two,” Macdonald said. As a visual artist, she is familiar with the work and names of several literary artists, but has not had opportunity to meet them until now. She’s looking forward to what creative possibilities might arise in combining the two groups.
“Good poems bring such a depth to the visualization process,” Macdonald said. “Now we’re just so curious to meet these people.”
Chocolate and wine will be served at the show’s opening and the poetry reading is scheduled to be broadcast on the city of Moscow’s channel 18-7, which can also be viewed online. The art exhibit will be open through April 16.
Schmidt can be contacted at email@example.com or at (208) 305-4578.
if you go
WHAT: “Ecology of Desire,” opening reception and poetry reading
WHEN: Feb. 20; opening from 5 to 7 p.m., reading at 6 p.m. Regular gallery hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
WHERE: Third Street Gallery at city hall, 206 E. Third St. in Moscow
The following local artists and poets collaborated on this project:
Garfield — John Elwood.
Lewiston — Dana Aldis, Bill Johnson.
Lewiston/Moscow — Kevin Goodan.
Moscow — Chris Arigo, Dan Berkner, Ross Coates, Gail Cochran, Sandi Day, Terri Gaffney, Florence Greathouse, Becker Gutsch, David Herbold, Ryan Law, Marilyn Lysohir, Laurel Macdonald, Maria Maggi, Lauren McCleary, Ron McFarland, Tiffany Midge, Joy Passanante Williams, Anne Pekie, Debi Robinson-Smith, Robert Rowley, Melanie Siebe, Rochelle Smith, Alexandra Teague, Dave Thacker, Georgia Tiffany, Karen Trujillo, Warren Vogel, Jeanne Wallace, George Wray, Robert Wrigley.
Moscow/Pullman — Kim Burwick.
Palouse — Nelson Duran.
Pullman — Val Boydo, Ruth Ann Brown, Gail Miller, Hiromi Okamura, John Streamus.
Troy — Lynne Haagensen.
Viola — Louise Colson.