These days collage is all around me, with the community arts collaboration Words & Afterwards in full swing. The public workshops given in February by visual artist Gail Trapp-Bohner and myself were reported by Britteny Dee of The State News (“Workshop explores violence and healing,” Feb. 21). Updates for this project are available by subscription at http://deyofthephoenix.com/words, though I will periodically mention them here on my main web site.
During March, workshops take place at REACH Studio Art Center, and are co-led by visual artist Jen Loforese and myself. Participants in the Teen Open Studio are creating collages based on a secular version of the Prayer of St. Francis. The collages will be brought together as book art — a one-of-a-kind creation — to be shown at (SCENE) Metrospace as part of the exhibit “Words & Afterwards: Moving from Violence to Healing.” It’s an amazing experience to watch the creative process of collage unfold, especially as a writer experimenting with the visual arts.
Toward my own original work that will be included in the exhibit, which opens April 27 from 6:00pm to 9:00pm, I recently recorded my father’s poem “War–Just a Touch” read by community member and peace advocate Jack Smith, also an associate professor in the College of Education at Michigan State University. My father, Millard Ernest Hasbrook, Sr. (1948-1999), was a Vietnam veteran and childhood domestic-violence survivor, and his poem conveys these combined experiences.
The audio recording will accompany mixed-media work inspired by the poem, alongside two others — one by myself and my great aunt Virginia May Wilson (1923-1992). Aunt Ginny was enlisted in the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) of World War II and thereafter worked as a physical therapist in VA (Veterans Affairs) Hospitals across the nation. Together the three poems, mixed-media work, and audio recordings explore the impact of war across generations. Domestic violence intersects this exploration — from my father’s childhood with his alcoholic father, into the childhoods of my father’s children as we survived his abuse and alcoholism.
By the way, during March I’ll be kicking around the Open Art Studio at NorthStar Center of Lansing on Tuesdays from 12:00pm to 4:00pm. These sessions are bring-your-own supplies and projects, while modest supplies are available through NSC’s donation. In order to keep the space breathable, supplies with strong fumes or scents are for outdoor-use-only. So if you have an arts project or want to start one, you are welcome to come make use of the cozy space.
Updated May 2, 2012.