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Firehouse Writers Group Collab Exhibition

I joined the Firehouse Art Center as an artist sometime last year and I am so glad I did! Through this group I've already had so many wonderful opportunities, met amazing people, and grown as an artist.

As of this past Friday, I have my first original piece hanging in the gallery! It's really the first time I've ever had a piece of work hanging up in a public gallery... so needless to say I'm super excited! (I had a couple prints hanging up for a December market at Christmas, but I feel like that doesn't count.) There was a call for artist members to join up with the writers group for a collaboration. Artists were then paired up with a writer and given a piece of theirs to create some sort of visual art. I was thrilled with the poem I received by Lucy Simpson. I've attached it below for your reading pleasure.

I actually painted a different piece for this collab originally, but I absolutely hated it so it didn't make it!

Underneath the painting is a collage of Rapunzel stories (gathered by my incredible mother with the help of my dad - thanks parents!). Over that I did an acrylic wash of purple and burnt umber.

Land of the Mother Gothels

“Many a girl had an old aunt who locked her in the study to keep the boys away.” Anne Sexton, Rapunzel, pg. 35, Transformations, 1971, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston.)

They are bent over their work, these Mother Gothels; each finger is a hook made for crocheting shawls from morning dew. Each one owns her own tower. Each one remembers a violence in the body – a meaty hand over the mouth. Each old bod is a patchwork quilt of scars.

The towers are feats of engineering, high and intricate as wedding cakes. Each one was built to house a young maiden, who grows her hair long, so that her mother can shimmy up to grab a kiss and a hug and to feed delicacies of the forest into the bird-like beak of her daughter.

The young women’s songs are living birds that soar over the canopy, the fields to find the waiting ear of a young man or woman, someone possibly strong and able, who will pursue the song back to its origin, with more dedication than a musicologist or an ornithologist. Each young maid is a rebel in a turret, longing to earn her own wounds, to grow old and be as capable as a mother.

The old women are an impenetrable hedge of thorns that has done blooming. Each one holds a heart, soft and delicate as clam’s flesh, sorrow salted. At day’s close, the mothers are climbing the hawsers of their daughter’s braids.

Some nights the girls collectively dream of stitching all the mothers up into a giant winding sheet and tossing the bundle in the river, to be done with the ache of the scalp from so much hair used as rope and the solitary confinement. In the heat of the sun, the towers are sweat boxes, and they wilt at the window for the breeze and in the winter, the darlings nearly freeze.

The mothers have no inkling a revolution is brewing; for they have forgotten their own revolts. Princes and princesses are coming to sow seeds in the girls and that knowledge will be more dangerous than any random dandy. Once the girls start reading, it will all be over

Lucy Simpson, published in Bluestem, 2018

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