Seasonal Crows

Most of our time in school is dedicated to student learning and the celebration of student achievement, but each year, our school hosts an Art Exhibition for works created by the adult members of our community. If you choose to, you can allow your work to be sold by silent auction, with a portion of the proceeds going our Student Service Committee to support the work our students do within the local community. It’s a pretty good gig.

I created two pieces for this year’s exhibition, including this piece, “Seasonal”.

Seasonal-Screen

This is a collage of Instagram pics and other digital photographs that I took, sorted and layered with varying degrees of transparency. I didn’t know what to call this piece, as strictly speaking, the images don’t represent all of the seasons. But it does feel seasonal to me. Like passing time with a lot of motion with a few moments of clarity and the traces of something ephemeral–memories or ambitions–present over everything.

The second piece I exhibited is called “Crows”.

Crows-Screen

We live on the top floor of our apartment building, and one morning the crows were sitting on the roof there and taking the occasional flight about and around before returning to their perch on the roof. It gave me a chance to get some great shots against a neutral background. The images on the left and right are un-retouched, just as I shot them. The centre frame is a composite of several other shots.

I haven’t written anything for a very long time, but I had a sense that visually, these crows needed text to accompany them. Or typography, maybe. So I started thinking about words for crows and then words as crows and then a couple of days before the exhibition, I started to hear the poem and wrote it down.

Separately, the poem is this:

What Needs Out
there is a murder in each of us
a monochrome of misshapen
characters mutually aflutter and
cawing for water, for a bellyful,
for birth at every moment of their
age; each cry a loose cohesion
of shadows and the things they
mean in the swirl and science of
reasonable flight and what needs
out now: jubilation and despair
and yearning for and for;
they flap and gather, beaks agape
misunderstood scavengers hoarding
clever for later, a shiny thing for the
nest, to sparkle between the sticks
and tarry feathers, those points and
balms we settle our hollow bones
angularly over to press out
pollock-speckled eggs of heavy
slate-green and ink, each to crack
on arrival of another hungry word.
beaks agape they flap and gather
and flutter and caw, dark forms of
cacophony and unarticulated dreams
aspiring to the tidy murmuration of
precise elocution–pretty and
ephemeral–shaped, evaporated and
reformed on an invisible web of water
vapour and rising sighs.
hungry, the word-crows flap and
gather against themselves, beat out
their commotion and ego and corvid
noise, their murderous need of a
single melody, clear syntax and
conviction.

Most of the time, I write, take photographs and generally make art to please myself. Often, I don’t even get around to sharing it with anyone. That might sound self-indulgent, but I think art is only self-indulgent when it is made with indifference to (or contempt of) its audience, even if the audience is just you.

That said, in addition to expression, I think art is also communication. Sometimes it is nice to share your work with others and to have it land, to palpably feel the closing of that loop of communication and see that something you’ve sent out has been, in some way, received.

I love seeing what my colleagues present in this exhibition. And I’m grateful for the opportunity.

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