All Posts in Volume 66: Issue 1

February 2010 - Comments Off

Jock Art: The Presence of Sports in Contemporary Art

Silas Van der Swaagh '12

Although athletics and art are rarely thought of as having much of a relationship, sports have had a presence in visual art since ancient Greece. Recently, the fusion of sports and art has been reconsidered by a small, but thriving, group of “jock artists”[1] who seem to see sports as a metaphor for larger life experiences. These artists have recognized the potential of sports as a subject for their art and, although they go about it in very different fashions, engage similar themes. These themes include masculinity and camaraderie (even to the extent of homoeroticism), the exultation of the victor and deflation of the loser, endurance, working within the constraints of a set of rules, and the very physicality of sports and how it relates to the active process of creating art. This response to what artists have witnessed in sports, both as spectators and active participants, has been expressed in all mediums of the fine arts: painting, sculpture, drawing, photography, video, and performance art.

People have always been drawn to athletics, and the realization of sports’ potential to communicate significant themes is not a recent one. Ancient Greek artists were among the first to demonstrate an interest in sports to communicate ideals and values. Possibly the most recognizable example of Greek, sports-related art is a sculpture by Myron entitled Discobolos

Myron (working c. 480-440 BC) Marble copy of bronze original

(The Discus Thrower, c. 450 BCE).[2] In this sculpture a discus thrower is caught in the moment before the ascent of his arm to release the discus. In a carefully planned expression, perfectly balanced between tension and release, Myron skillfully executed an example of the idealized, muscular depictions of male nudes that were so common to the art of mid-5th Century (BCE) Greece. Through the perfect order and symmetry of the athlete’s taut body, the well-known Greek philosophy that “man is the measure of all things” is symbolized. Just as the equally famous sculpture, Dying Gaul (3rd century BCE), which expresses the power of Greece by showing its defeated enemy not as a weakling, but as a strong, intimidating foe, Discobolos acts as propaganda for Greek ideals and values. Myron succeeds in using athletic and physical prowess to represent the order and superiority of Greece, thus pioneering the rich relation between sports and art.

After an absence of some 1,600 years, sports reclaimed a presence in Western art in the 17th century through the paintings of the Dutch Golden Age (Hume). Unlike their Greek predecessors, these artists do not dwell on the magnificence or pathos of athletes, but rather depict hearty Dutchmen in their leisure: playing golf, ice skating, and sledding. As Canadian writer and critic Christopher Hume states, there is “not much truth or beauty” found in the Dutch Golden Age sports paintings, “just chubby-cheeked Amsterdamers out for an afternoon's fun on the nearest frozen river” (Hume).

Avercamp, Hendrick (b. 1585-1634) Watercolor

In the 19th century, though, an American artist emerged whose sports-themed paintings and lithographs differed greatly from the Dutch depictions of people at play. George Bellows (1882-1925), whose paintings and lithographs span a variety of subject matter, is perhaps best known for his depictions of boxing. Organized boxing was prohibited at the time that Bellows was painting and the unglamorous, illegal matches that the artist attended are captured in works such as Stag At Sharkey’s (1909) and Both Members Of This Club (1909). These are “gritty and violent” paintings that express the ferocity of two humans in physical competition and, as art historian Mahonri Sharp Young states, deliver “the rush and wallop of the ring” (Morris).

George Bellows (1882-1925) Oil on canvas, 45 1/4 x 63 3/16 in.

Bellow’s artistic focus on sports was most likely born from his personal experiences in atheletics. In his youth, Bellows displayed passion and talent in both sports and art. During his enrolment at Ohio State University, Bellows illustrated for the school yearbook and played varsity baseball and basketball. After college, Bellows was offered a contract to play baseball with the Cincinnati Reds, which he rejected, choosing instead a career in art (National Gallery of Art). This athletic experience was not left behind and is evident in Bellow’s work. The broad, quick brush strokes of his paintings convey an energy that is felt inside the ring, reflected on the faces of the spectators and passed on to the viewer. One can imagine Bellows in his studio, transferring the violence and exertion he witnessed at dark, illicit matches, to strokes on his canvas – moving his arm with the same intensity as his subject’s arching punch. “The illusion,” claims author Joyce Carol Oates in her examination of boxing and the art of George Bellows, “is that the artist (and by extension the viewer) is physically present at ringside, not coolly detached from the violence but vicariously, voyeuristically participating in it” (Morris). Bellows recreates for his viewers the furious expressions of masculinity and drive for survival that he witnessed in the shadowy, underground matches he often frequented.

George Bellows (1882-1925) Oil on canvas, 36 1/4 x 48 1/4 in.

One hundred years later, a new league of primarily American “jock artists” has attempted to tackle similar subjects as those of Bellows. American artist Lee Walton (b. 1974), who works within a wide range of media, shows an interest in the rules by which sports are played. His “baseball drawings,” for instance, are similar to the stunning wall drawings of American artist, Sol LeWitt, in both process and composition. Like LeWitt, Walton creates for himself a set of rules that govern how he composes his drawings. These rules are often directly related to the play of a particular baseball, basketball, or football game. For example, “curved lines can stand for base hits; a fly ball out is a straight line…; a double is a

Lee Walton (b. 1974) Ink on paper 24 x 33 in.

wide stripe running to bottom; a home run is a thick line across the top of the space” (Agee). In a baseball drawing such as The Yankees vs. Mets - 3 Game Series (2007), one can even see Walton’s rules written out in the upper left hand corner. The results are visual score cards that delicately and gracefully record the details of each game.

Australian photographer and filmmaker, Tracey Moffatt (b. 1960), is another contemporary artist who has shown interest in sports. Her series Fourth features twenty-six stills from television coverage of the 2000 Sydney Summer Olympics. Rather than focusing on the winners of the athletic competitions, Moffatt scoured Olympic coverage from all over the world searching for images of the athletes who came in fourth place. These competitors, who just missed the top three medal positions, often display blank, unbelieving faces. Moffatt’s photographs are poignant and express sport’s power to elicit authentic, deeply felt emotions from the players.

Tracey Moffatt (b. 1960) Color print on canvas 14.2 × 18.1 in.

Another artist in the forefront of the “jock art” field is American artist, David Rathman. Rathman (birth date unavailable) has always shown an interest in American culture, especially American images of masculinity, such as cowboys, punk music, and car racing. Home and Away (2006), from Rathman’s series of ink and watercolor paintings of high school football, is representative of the artist’s painting style. In this painting we see the back of a stocky football player as he gazes over the vast playing field and, as is typically found in Rathman paintings, expansive sky. Members of the opposing team are huddled together, casting long shadows

David Rathman Ink and watercolor on canvas 30 x 38 in.

across the ground, and on the distant scoreboard one can read, “Home: 20, Guest: 30.” Rathman’s work is dramatic. His grandiose use of negative space, often humorous titles, predominantly monochromatic hues, and frequent use of text within the paintings (in the case of his football paintings, clichéd phrases such as “Time to Deliver the Shiver”) give his work the melodrama of a sports movie or classic American westerns.

Rathman has extended his interest in expressing masculinity to boxing and wrestling as well. In his effort to capture the essential moments of the athletes’ time in the ring, Rathman, unlike Bellows, strips away the violence of the sport and presents his subjects as quiet dancers, elegantly moving around their stage.

David Rathman Ink and watercolor on canvas 22 x 26 in.

Although Rathman addresses macho, American themes, he does so with grace and elegance. His details are always delicate and the perspective presented is never from within the action, but from the viewpoint of a quiet observer. Perhaps the way Rathman treats his violent subjects with such gentleness stems from his own background with sports. The artist explains that as a child, growing up in a small Montana town, he was always interested in football but never played because he was “small” (The Rake: Magazine). In Untitled 7, from Rathman’s football series, we see players huddled together, awaiting the news of an approaching referee. From a removed perspective, Rathman’s ever faceless, always masked subjects lack the bruises and sweat that would most assuredly be present. This fondness for elegance is present even in some of his

David Rathman Ink and watercolor on canvas 40 x 48 in.

most violent images, such as the triptych Into Your Arms (2005), in which Rathman transforms the image of a racecar flipping through the air and crashing back to earth into a delicate abstract against a pure white backdrop.

The sport of wrestling proves to be a subject favored by “jock artists.” For years, American artist Collier Schorr (b. 1963) has photographed high school and collegiate wrestlers during practice and before and after bouts. Schorr’s photographs do not share the same distant perspective as Rathman’s paintings. She talks of the experience of her ducking and weaving among the wrestlers’ bodies as she photographs them grappling with each other (Art:21). This “dancing” among the wrestlers has resulted in very intimate portraits of the young men.

David Rathman Acrylic and oil on canvas 30 x 38 in. each

A piece like Catch/Caught (A.C. & S.S.) (2002), demonstrates Schorr’s intention to distort the “extremely macho, extremely masculine” (Art:21) attitudes often associated with sports. In this image, two wrestlers are shown carefully practicing a takedown; one on his knees, holding the leg of his standing partner whose arm gently rests on the kneeling wrestler’s shoulder. The two teenagers look to be in the middle of quiet moment of intimacy, rather than a wrestling practice. When explaining her interest in wrestlers, Schorr asserts that “masculinity has been depicted in very black and white terms…There never seems to be a wide range of emotional definitions of men” (Art:21).

Collier Schorr (b. 1963) C-print 44 3/4 x 33 1/2 in.

Collier Schorr (b. 1963) C-print 38 1/4 x 47 1/2 in.

As Schorr explains,  “I love…to see two guys throwing some moves and then being careful that they didn’t hurt each other. Pushing as hard as they can but then pulling back, making sure they’re okay. Talking about it, how to do it better, giving each other advice. All that...is a rich part of masculinity” (Art:21).  Through images such as Catch/Caught (A.C. & S.S.) and An Image and a Likeness (2003), Schorr attempts to present the full range of emotions that she observes on wrestling teams, moments of determination or toughness as well as those of tenderness.

As would be expected in such a high contact sport, one of the main studies of Schorr’s work is how wrestlers physically interact with each other. Schorr presents camaraderie between teammates that, at times, is almost homoerotic.

Collier Schorr (b. 1963) C-print 47.5 x 38 in.

Collier Schorr (b. 1963) C-print 37 5/8 × 30 in.

The rivalry between God and other gods (2002) depicts two shirtless boys in a strong wrestling embrace. Considering the relentless assertion of machismo that is often linked to “jocks,” these two teenagers appear intimately familiar with each other’s sweaty, muscular bodies.[3] Images such as Lives of performers (G.R.) (2003) and Reaching (H.T.) (2003) further demonstrate Schorr’s skill to alter her subjects, transforming the violent wrestlers into beautiful abstractions sprawled out against the black canvas of the mat.

Matthew Barney (b. 1967) Walk-in cooler, petroleum jelly decline bench, human chorionic gonadotrophin, silicon gel pectoral form, video monitors 144 x 168 x 102 in.

If any artist has successfully considered all of the themes discussed above—the physicality of sports, self-imposed rules and obstacles, masculinity, and ambiguity of gender—it is Matthew Barney. Barney (b. 1967), heralded by chief art critic for the New York Times, Michael Kimmelman, as “the most important American artist of his generation,”, has received, since his emergence in the art world, a mixture of unadulterated praise as well as unabashed criticism. Overall, though, Barney must be acknowledged as one of the most imaginative, ambitious, and significant artists of his time. Throughout the vast, eccentric collection of sculptures, videos, and performances that Barney has created, there is a constant presence of sports. These recurring athletic references are rooted in Barney’s personal experiences with football and weight training.

Matthew Barney (b. 1967) Documentation still

Since an early age, Barney has been familiar with locker rooms and gym equipment, weight training, and the physical endurance that athletics demands. In high school, he was the quarterback of his football team. Later, he paid his way through college as a model, part of the time working for J. Crew. Clearly, Mathew Barney is a “jock.” His familiarity with athletic subject matter is very accessible in works such as Transexualis (Decline) (1991), but becomes more abstracted in Barney’s later work, such as his Cremaster Cycle (1994-2002) video series.

Drawing Restraint 2 (1988) Matthew Barney (b. 1967) Documentation still

One of the most commonly recurring concepts that Barney gleaned from his athletic experiences is the breaking down of muscle tissue in the body in order to encourage its growth (SFMOMA). This theme of enduring a challenging and often destructive process in order to develop is present in much of the artist’s work. Although this drives virtually all of Barney’s art, it is most clear in works such as the Drawing Restraint series, which Barney first began to develop while still in college. In these performances and videos, Barney would impose physical restrictions on himself[4], which he would then have to overcome in an attempt to create a drawing. It is only after struggling against resistance and enduring severe physical strain that the drawings are created. This theme continued to fuel Barney’s work on his five-part Cremaster Cycle (1994-2002) series of films. The cremaster, the muscle that

Matthew Barney (b. 1967) Video still

regulates the temperature of the male testes, and the embryonic process of sexual development in the human body provided the starting point for this set of cryptic films. The Cremaster films are rife with symbolism and historical references—including Harry Houdini, Gary Gilmore, Freemasonry, and the Mormon Church—that are all connected and significant to Barney in some mystifying, esoteric way. Although the Cremaster films are much different from the Drawing Restraint series, they are inspired by the same concept: a long, challenging process yields development.

Matthew Barney (b. 1967) Video Still

Ostensibly, the connections between Barney’s art and his past life as an athlete are much more conceptual than they are visual and, as a consequence, are not always obvious. Although he is greatly influenced by organized sports as is David Rathman and Collier Schorr, Barney’s creations are much different. Beyond obvious images and references, such as the role Bronco Stadium in Boise, Idaho plays as the stage for the synchronized dancing in Cremaster 1, or his gigantic photographs of his high school idol, former Oakland Raiders center, Jim Otto, as well as the use of wrestling mats in his Jim Otto Suite instillations, it can be unclear that Barney’s art has any connection to sports at all (although his still very athletic physique, which is featured in many of his near-naked performances, might hint at his former life.) When Barney addresses “unacknowledged or suppressed sexuality in men’s sports” (Woodward 3), the same subject that has fascinated Rathman and Schorr, he does so, not by delicately portraying violent, macho

Richard Serra (b. 1939) Documentation photograph

images, but by a performance of him pushing around football blocking sled while wearing a cocktail dress. In all of his art, what establishes Barney most as a “jock artist” is his conceptual references to the physicality of sports and how that physicality relates to the physicality of his own process of creating art.

Matthew Barney (b. 1967) Video Still

This interest in the physical activity that goes into creating art links Barney to the early process and performance artists of the 60s. A piece such as Splashing (1968) by Richard Serra, who plays a lead role in Cremaster 3 as an architect of whom Barney is the apprentice, is directly quoted as being influential by Barney and is reenacted in Cremaster 3 (although this time, instead of Serra flinging molten lead against the corner between a floor and wall to create a mold, Serra hurls one of Barney’s signature mediums, Vaseline). Similarly, Bruce Nauman was interested in using his body as a medium for his art. Many of his pieces involved him exploring the space of his gallery with his body. A video piece such as Violin Tuned D.E.A.D. (1969) for instance, features Nauman strutting around his while studio droning the open strings of a violin, examining how the sound changed with his movements. Another influential predecessor of Barney was Chris Burden who was made famous for his highly physical, often violent, performances. His gruesome Trans-fixed (1974), in which Burden had himself nailed to the back of a Volkswagen Beetle, certainly exhibited endurance through pain.

Jackson Pollock (1912-1956) Oil and enamel on unprimed canvas 8' 10" x 17' 5 5/8"

The lineage of this fascination with the physical process of art can be traced through the drip paintings of Jackson Pollock (1912-1956). Descriptions of Pollock working on a painting in his studio, as well as the famous documentation by photographer Hans Namuth, depict the artist dancing around a giant, outspread canvas on the floor, flinging paint. This physical energy and movement is abundantly clear in paintings such as One: Number 31, 1950 (1950), an emblematic Pollock painting. To extend the lineage further, author Joyce Carol Oates argues Pollock’s “action painting” (a term coined by American critic, Harold Rosenberg) is anticipated by the quick and energetic brushstrokes of George Bellows whose paintings exhibit a “rush of skilled activity" that evidences the fact that Bellows certainly wasn’t standing perfectly still as he created his art. Barney’s artistic ancestors are clear: a family of artists who are fiercely interested in the way the physical movements of the body create, and sometimes are, works of art.

The relationship between physicality and art appears to be what unites the team of jock artists. Sports and the creating of art are both highly physical acts. As Schorr dances around her wrestlers and Matthew Barney struggles against a harness to try to complete a drawing, or, by contrast, Rathman delicately details his paintings, they are all responding to the potency of sports, even if that response is, as Rathman’s art presents, a gentle one. Through such artists two seemingly disparate disciplines are brought together.

Jock artists, regardless of whether or not they themselves play sports, have realized the power of sports to affect people. They see athletics as analogous to life, even more, as a microcosm of life. Through sports, humans are pushed to mental and emotional extremes. They compete in a drive for survival and victory that could be compared to the experience of fighting a battle; and when they fail, their grief is deeply felt. The sometimes painful, often blank, faces of Moffat’s subjects are not the just faces of defeated athletes, but human beings who have battled and lost; their pathos is recognizable to everyone. Even Matthew Barney’s concept of development being achieved through endurance, is not one exclusive to sports; consider, for example, all the unpleasant experiences that have been justified by parents to their children as “character building.” Collier Schorr, too, believes there is universality to the characters her photographs presents when she states, “I think a lot of people see their own struggles as teenagers in the pictures. They see that transition from adolescent to grownup to adult” (Art:21).

Athletics has proven to be a resilient resource for artists. From Myron to Matthew Barney, jocks have had their place in the art world and sports’ ability to evoke authentic, deeply felt, and recognizable emotions in both the subject and the viewer, has been acknowledged for centuries. This power coupled with the image of sweaty young men grappling together in an effort to force each other into submission, renders sports a subject that is understandably too enticing for artists to ignore.

Works Cited

Agee, William C. “Lee Walton: Drawing and Baseball.” LeeWalton.com. 2005. 15 October, 2008 http://www.leewalton.com/biography/William_C_Agee_Essay.html

Art:21. “Wrestlers Love America.” Art:21. <http://www.pbs.org/art21/artists/schorr/clip2.html>

Clementine Gallery. “David Rathman.” <http://www.clementinegallery.com/rathman2004.html>

Hume, Christopher. “Athletic heroes once art staple.” Toronto Star 1 July 2001 Sunday Ontario

Edition: SPORTS 08- . Lexis Nexis Academic. CUNY Hunter College, New York, NY. 6 Nov. 2008 <http://academic.lexisnexis.com/online-services/academic-overview.aspx>

Matthew Barney discusses his influences. SFMOMA, 2000

<http://www.sfmoma.org/multimedia/videos/316>

Morris, Daniel. "Figuring and disfiguring: Joyce Carol Oates on boxing and the paintings of

George Bellows." Mosaic (Winnipeg). 31.4 (Dec. 1998): p135. Literature Resources from Gale. Gale. HUNTER COLLEGE. 28 Nov. 2008

<http://go.galegroup.com.proxy.wexler.hunter.cuny.edu/ps/start.do?p=LitRG&u=cuny_hunter>.

National Gallery of Art. “George Bellows – Biography.” <http://www.nga.gov/cgi-

bin/pbio?2050>

The Rake: Magazine. “David Rathman.” The Rake: Magazine 29 Jan. 2007

<http://www.secretsofthecity.com/magazine/reporting/straight-talk/david-rathman>

Woodward, Richard B. “Home Team Advantage.” The New York Times 15 Feb. 2004: Section

2; Column 1; Arts and Leisure Desk; Pg. 17.


[1] Although it may not be the first time it was used, the term “jock art” was found in the New York Times article “Home Team Advantage” by Richard B. Woodward.

[2] Only a Roman copy of the Greek original remains.

[3] Ambiguity of gender roles has been a common theme in much of Schorr’s work (which has featured almost exclusively teenage boys), like in her Jens F./Helga series, in which she photographed a young man posing as Helga, the woman that painter Andrew Wyeth’s studied in secret for 15 years. In these photographs, Schorr blurs gender lines by captures her male model in various sensual, intimate poses often associated with female nudes.

[4] Examples can be seen in images 17 and 18

February 2010 - Comments Off

Leisure Time

<a href="http://thesilo.bandcamp.com/track/leisure-time-2">Leisure Time by The Silo</a>

Martin Zimmermann '10

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I Am From Horse Tails Crying and Eyes Not Shining

Abbey White '13

I am from red clay, born with bare legs and elbows stained with dirt.
When the sky got too big to carry, I pressed an ear
to the ground, listening to the heartbeat that lay beneath.
And when the hoof beats of the buffalo shook my bones,
I knew it was not man who set the world to spinning.

I am from the open prairies where my hands,
small and starved and caked with dirt between nail and flesh,
reached down to grasp fingers belonging to a man
with a fiddle on one shoulder and a gun on the other, in a place
where the trees give way to the sky in every direction but down.

I am from the crest of a hill where I crept to his place, watching him
as he cried from his shoulder. It was the strangest sound
I ever heard, the way those horsetails cried— the bow looping
up and around, dancing, as he pulled that stick into song, singing
Oh Mary, Mary, will you marry me?

I am from a cloth village, possessing not what the brick village does—
skirts that reach my toes, corsets lacing me up like a cakíra¢ in a cage.
With my hair wrapped round like a little rock, at the nape of my neck,
he let a whistle escape from his puckered lips. But by the smudged mirror
I had never seen anything so ugly.

I am from a dowry of beads and buffalo skins and his house upon the hill
where he learned my real name. From making cornmeal with bacon,
stirring dough with my hands when he wasn’t looking, smiling
at his blue-as-the-water eyes when he was, and folding his clothes
with flour covered palms, as if a ghost had done the laundry.

I am from an imprint left on cornhusks and feathers, leaving him wake
to a clap of thunder and the sight of me standing in the doorway,
the wind pulling at my nightgown and hair I let loose. Rain drips
through windows, licking at his feet as he kisses my cold cheeks
whispering, Bright eyes, Bright eyes, why ain't you shinin' no more?

I am from stolen land, bought lakes, lost tribes, and captured souls.
Salt skin with blistered feet from blistering sand— a brown mermaid,
plucked from the sea, in borrowed gowns my ocean eyes stain with tears.

February 2010 - Comments Off

Through the Stones

Ian Dolton-Thornton '11

Ian Dolton Thornton '11: Through the Stones, Collage

Ian Dolton Thornton '11: Through the Stones, Collage

Ian Dolton Thornton '11 is from Santa Cruz, California and likes reading.

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Ohio 2


Stephen Hill '13
This piece is meant as a sequel to Neil Young's "Ohio."

February 2010 - Comments Off

Great Wife Material

Emily Tareila '10

Emily Gray Tareila (tuh-ray-luh) '10: Great Wife Material, human hair + pleather on wood

Emily Gray Tareila (tuh-ray-luh) '10 loves handmade things, cooking, sharing, families, relationships and the ways in which these topics are changing and evolving right now; she is also from new jersey.

February 2010 - Comments Off

A Dry Spell on a Lake in Maine

Katherine Perkins '11

In a photograph you capture only a millisecond, if that. We stumbled out the back door of the bar into a semi-deserted patio. It felt like somebody’s backyard and therefore like trespassing, but the space was muffled from the music and general debauchery inside, so we stayed. The rest of the river guides were trying to set the camera’s timer so that we could all be in the picture, but James was too drunk and probably too slow to begin with—sometimes he got all of us in it, but in those cases the flash didn’t go off so we looked like blurry ghosts, orbs caught by accident on film. In other cases the flash worked but the aim didn’t so all you could see were twelve or thirteen groping bodies with beer bottles.

I had grabbed Matt’s hand and told him to come outside, but the confidence of the impulse left me as soon as we stepped off the dance floor, so we joined the rest of the photo crew like it had been our intention all along to stand there with a bunch of drunken, hugging, almost-strangers and smile at a digital camera in the dark.

That night I decided I was more in Maine than I had ever been. The weekend had seen me compromise all of my definite morals. Friday midnight I was driving back dirt roads with stoners and drunks, who drove with one hand on the steering wheel and the other on a Bud, slow, not to save the occupants, but the interior of the car from another coat of Jack and soda. Saturday afternoon, sitting in the back of a stranger’s coup, I took sips of drinks mixed in Styrofoam by a thirty-two-year-old mother with cigarettes and beer on her breath—where’s the kid, someone asked, and she laughed, he’s with James, he’s with James. That same night I danced in a bar with girls who pretended to be lesbians so the men who walked in, stinking of bug spray and whiskey and smoke, would drool in their general direction. There still, I tried giving signals with my eyes to the boy I’d known all of twenty-four hours and stumbled with him into someone else’s drunken Kodak moment. Everything about the place made my insides revolt, but I didn’t want to be an outsider there. In the back of my mind there was a steady inkling of the notion that none of it could possibly end well, but that was combined with the other voice in my head, that self-effacing voice that said Stop being a mother; Stop being so goddamn responsible; When the hell else will you ever do anything like this? So I gave in to the second voice and decided that I would be a little bit of a different person for the evening—I was more in Maine than I’d ever been.

Before that weekend, the boy, Matthew Leisure, was the river guide my cousin Alix kept telling me about. As usual, Alix was more concerned about fixing my dry spell than I was, so her cogs were turning way ahead of time, making considerations about who might be the fix. She described him as tall, overall-wearing, Texan, blue-eyed, sheepish and a bit of a drinker, so I was pretty much all for it—except for the drinking part, which she kind of glossed over with a half-apology that it was only this summer, now that he was living in The Forks.

You couldn’t really be part of that world without drinking, Alix kept saying. It was like one collective bad decision after another, but because everybody took part, it was okay. This is how you really live, they said with everything they did. If you’re not risking your life, how do you know—how could you possibly—that you’re living it?

Alix told me this—it was Friday afternoon and we were driving down the dirt road to the Moxie Guide Service base camp and the light was real nice through the trees because the light is always nice through the trees in the late afternoon in Northern Maine, and she told me this: You’re the kind of girl that a boy will never make a move on, unless you give him a real sure sign. You’ve gotta put something out there that he can grab ahold of, she said. See, you’re the kind of girl he wants to marry, not make-out with. A guy doesn’t want to go in for something casual when he thinks you might be a marriage prospect.

The thing about my dry spell, is that it doesn’t bother me so much until somebody I love and care for gets to addressing it like it’s their own. My own disappointment would, for the most part, be manageable, but seeing the looks on their faces makes my stomach grimace because you would think, from those looks, that they’d all had five hundred dollar bets going that I had an engagement to announce.

But Alix told me this: that unless I want to come across like a marriage prospect—for somebody’s younger, more religiously motivated brother, or a boy scout—I’ve got to make a general announcement with my body and my mouth that I do not, in fact, intend to be a cloistered nun. Touch his leg or something, she said. Give him a little sign. Use your eyes. Use them. You’ve gotta use what you’ve got.

The frustrating part is when she gets to giving me these pointers, the whole time I’m thinking: but wait. Wait a second. Don’t I do that? Don’t I do that already? If those weren’t signs I was giving with my eyes, then what the hell were they? Which leads me to the question: when you say ‘give clear signals,’ how overt are we talking here? I begin to think, based on these and other conversations whose primary subjects have been my dry spell, that the best approach would be to say it all straight out: Hello, my name is such and such and I am a sexual being. Would you like to ----? Or something along those lines. Very clear, very direct, a statement of what is, followed by an attractive proposal. Of course there are some who would say that there is nuance lacking in this approach. But the world seems to be in agreement these days that nuance is secondary to sex appeal, so I’ll go for the clear and direct I guess.

I didn’t realize until more than a month after I’d left The Forks, that I was getting inadvertent lessons in all the advice Alix was trying to give me from a woman named Maria. She was mentioned earlier as the thirty-two year-old mother mixing drinks in the front seat. She’s the mother of a seven-year-old named Romeo and she wears a skirt so short that you can see her underwear when she leans over, or you could, if you were looking. Our first night in The Forks, she came upstairs where all the guides were drinking Buds and chatting, and she sat down with her legs spread and Romeo right there between them, facing out at the rest of us. I don’t think there was a person in the room who could have avoided the thought that if Romeo decided to move just a tick to one side or the other, we would all, whether we signed up or not, have a free peak at Mother Maria’s downstairs.

You could say Maria knows what she’s got—it’s not for no reason that she wears that little tiny skirt—and I say ‘that’ skirt because there is just one that she wears, her goldy-tan legs coming out like little roman statues in all their naked glory—every day. I know it’s the same because on Sunday morning, following Saturday night’s debauchery, the object in question was muddy and stained with beer and who knows what else, and she was there in the kitchen in that, a Moxie T-Shirt and an apron, mopping the floor at 7:30. Maria is nuts, the guys kept on saying, but she’s a hard worker. She’s a hard fucking worker.

On Saturday afternoon the drinking started as soon as we got off the river—Buds opened up out of coolers in the flatbeds of muddy pickups—just like a bad advertisement. The overall-wearing, sweet-singing Texan invited me to go swimming with him at some falls somewhere nearby, and I thought this swimming trip might just be the beginning of a ticket for relief from my dry spell. Also, as my presence hadn’t really allowed Alix and her fiancé, Todd, any hanky-panky for the weekend, I decided it would be a nice gesture to accept.

A long, skinny girl named Meredith with kind of hunched over posture was driving and Matt hopped into the back with me. For a minute, I thought he was being romantic and letting Meredith be our chauffer, but then we stopped at the Moxie base camp and Maria got in front with her short skirt and a bag of ice and a cloth bag over her shoulder. Maria’s teeth and her legs are the most vivid parts of her and she was showing them both, grinning big to have her Mommy obligations on hold for the moment. She turned around in her seat and produced a stack of Styrofoam cups, a liter of coke and a bottle of Bacardi from her bag. She pointed at me with the rum. Who are you again? She asked. You’re Todd’s other girlfriend, right? Your Todd’s other girlfriend.

Kate. I filled in the blank. Kate Kate Kate, she said. I’ll remember it now. I swear I’ll remember. She turned back to the front. Okay, driver first, she said. You ready Meredith?

With the cap of the rum in her teeth and the cup balanced between her knees and the bottle not in use at her feet, she mixed it strong, all the while saying, Don’t worry—it’s mostly ice. Looking at her, you wouldn’t think this woman could possibly be a day over twenty-three—even less that she could be the mother of a seven-year-old, or of anybody for that matter. She passed one back to Matt. Jee-sus Maria. His whole body winced as it went down. I’m sorry—do you want me to dilute it for you? I could pour some into mine, she said. Naw, it’s alright, he said. But Christ.

By three or four dead-slow miles, bumping and sloshing down the road—all of the cars and trucks in The Forks smell like drunk driving, mostly on account of the fact that that is their primary occupation—Maria and Meredith were all over each other and loud in the front seat, saying how good it was to get together like this and why the fuck hadn’t they ever partied together before? Matt and I in the back seat were, for the most part, pretty quiet, except when we were laughing at the two in front and answering the occasional questions they threw back at us, like, Do you want another drink, and What’s your name again?

So far, I’d gathered a number of facts about our trip and its participants:

1) We were going to some falls that were really beautiful to swim before dark; 2) They planned on smoking pot when we got there; 3) The distance from the base camp to the falls was anywhere between five and ten miles—Why? asked Maria, grinning all her pretty teeth at me, Do you want to get out?; 4) That Meredith had gotten in some degree of trouble for previous drunken afternoon and evening expeditions; and 5) That Romeo was in the responsible, if slightly inebriated, hands of Maria’s well-intentioned, dumb-ass younger brother, James, for the duration of her binge.

The fact of the eventual pot-smoking got significantly more attention than the other facts, as we spent considerable time discussing the cost-benefit ratio of smoking in the car vs. smoking when we got there. Matt said he needed to smoke a cigarette to give the issue proper thought and asked Meredith to stop the car so we wouldn’t have to breathe his second-hand. Meredith enjoys driving a stick-shift with one rum & coke down the gullet and another in hand, but she draws the line firm and clear at cigarettes, a delineation that I think deserves at least some vague form of acknowledgement or appreciation, if not respect.

Standing outside the car with a thin line of trees and the lake behind him, Matt asked Meredith for her lighter. Would you look in the backseat? she asked me. And in that box at your feet? I found a clothespin and a condom and part of a candy bar and a stack of papers, but nothing resembling a lighter. Shit, they began to giggle in the front. We’ve come all the way out here and we don’t have a fucking lighter. Two things were decided: one, that we were officially too far out to turn around and go back, and two, that we’d come too far to turn around with only half our mission complete. So they decided that as soon as we saw somebody, anybody, we would ask them right away if they had a lighter and how much they wanted for it. Matt got back in the car and we were on our way again.

What didn’t seem to be occurring to any of them was what seemed to me the very distinct likelihood that we wouldn’t see anybody at all. They were discussing what they would say to somebody and whether they would offer to borrow or pay for it, and I was thinking how I should go about phrasing how ridiculous they all sounded, as I couldn’t remember the last time I’d seen another car, or house for that matter. Then like an apparition out of nowhere, a vision of an angel, there was an old guy with a beard and a beer-belly, fishing on a bridge on the road in front of us. Meredith leaned out her window—Hey. Do you have a lighter?

The guy had one of those mouths where the bottom lip is constantly moving out and in, like he’s trying to chew on something without using his top teeth, while also making it prerogative to maintain his frown.

Yeah, I’ve got a lighter, he said, fishing in his pocket.

You catching anything? asked Matt.

Naw, he said. He turned out to look at the lake for a minute. He turned back again, still frowning. Naw, he said again. There’s nothing out there.

He produced a lighter and handed it to Meredith, glancing in at the rest of us with big sad eyes. Thanks, said Meredith, and she shifted the car back into gear. Wait, you’ve gotta ask him if it’s okay if we take it, said Maria. Yeah, said Matt, or ask him if he smokes. Hey, do you smoke? asked Meredith, sticking her head back out the window. Yeah, he said. He was a little bewildered now. You smoke pot? No, I don’t have any on me, he said. But you smoke it? Sure he said. When I can.

We’re just gonna pull over up here, Meredith said. You wanna smoke a joint with us? Yeah, sure okay, he said.

We pulled over on an old side road leading up towards an old gravel yard and he left his fishing gear on the bridge. You wanna drink? Asked Matt. No, don’t drink, he said. Just smoke. When I can.

I was feeling kind of antsy by this time on account of driving piss-slow on a dirt road that was in no way familiar to me for upwards of half an hour with people who were also unfamiliar and also drunk, and also on account of not knowing how much longer we’d be driving to get to the nowhere that was our destination in the middle of even more nowhere. On account of all of those things, and also the fact that pot makes my heart beat about a million times a second and turns my mind into a paranoid den, I didn’t want to smoke with them, and I didn’t really feel like standing around and watching them get high, so I said I wanted to go look at the reflection of rocks in the lake and I took off. Hey, I’ll come with you, said Maria, and she left the stoners to join me by the water.

So you don’t really drink, she said.

Not really. I said. Occasionally. Sometimes.

So you don’t. It’s okay—I don’t really either—just sometimes. Weekends, you know. I can’t really. With Romeo.

How old is he? I asked.

He’s seven. You wouldn’t know though, looking at him, would you? He’s small for his age. I’m small too, you know, she said after a minute, like I hadn’t noticed her hairline at my chin level. So I’m hoping he takes after his father. Romeo’s father is really tall.

He’s not in the picture? I said.

What?

His dad—Romeo’s father—he’s not around?

No.

She looked me in the eye to see how her words would affect me. She tilted her head to the side and rubbed her fingers through her hair so the sun struck her eyes and her hair and her teeth just right. No, she said. Romeo’s father is in jail.

That must be rough, I said, and we were both silent for a while.

Yeah, she said eventually. It is. He’s a good person you know—we’re all good people right? But he’s the kind of guy who makes a lot of bad decisions. She looked at the lake, Fucking beautiful isn’t it?

It’s nice to have a conversation with somebody you don’t know when you’ve got something scenic to look at while you’re talking so you’ve got a real decent, genuine excuse not to make eye contact too often.

No kidding, I said, Fucking beautiful. I was trying to figure out how to phrase to her that she was, in fact, the kind of person that I most wanted to connect with and that it seemed like there was something cosmic about out meeting here like this. All winter I’d been talking to and thinking and writing about women whose husbands and brothers and boyfriends and fiancés and child-fathers were behind bars—women in California, women in the city—and I thought, how strange and purposeful this whole world must be, if I’m meeting this woman here, like this, on a planet so unrelated to the first. What I ended up saying was something mostly incoherent about how the women’s stories—the stories of the women on the outside, the ones who were suffering from the absence rather than the confinement—were so often overlooked, which is why I’m interested in telling them. But I think I said too much and I’m not sure if she believed me, though she did most likely develop an impression of somebody significantly stranger than her first glimpses had indicated.

I kept on getting struck by how much younger than thirty she looked, standing there with the late afternoon sun in her face. The word to describe her may not have been vulnerable, but she was worn to being open for a moment at least—a young person worn through and weary to the core. And also with a kind of brimming drive and intelligence that her looks and circumstances got in the way of far too early on in her existence. It was no innocent game she was playing, but I also got the sense that she was programmed to play it from the start.

Come on, she said. We should go back. We walked along the edge of the lake to where three blood-shot-eyed individuals were waiting, staring into space, leaning against the bumper of Meredith’s car. Matt gave the fisherman his lighter and got in with me. We pulled away, and I watched the old man through the back window as he returned to the fishing gear on the bridge, where he would sit and catch nothing until the sun went down.

February 2010 - Comments Off

Sheep

Elizabeth Bennett '10

Elizabeth Bennett '10: Sheep, Painting

February 2010 - Comments Off

Part I : Tristan’s Proclamation For Lemon Poppy

Faith Griffiths '11


Scene One: The Restaurant Kitchen.

Tristan and Lorena are in the otherwise empty kitchen of the restaurant where they both work. Tristan is sitting, shaping cookie dough, while Lorena stands, fidgeting, in the doorway. Kitchen sounds and yells are in the background so both characters must shout.


LORENA

I’m sorry Tristan, but I’m leaving you.

Tristan drops the pan of warm cookies he is holding.


TRISTAN

What?


LORENA

I said, I’m leaving! Look, I’ve fallen in love with Antonio, and-


TRISTAN

The new sous chef?!?! What, are his knives sharper than a measly baker’s? Is it because he has a perfect dice? Because he smells like garlic and liver and onions? You like that, Lorena?


LORENA

Antonio is nice, he’s good looking, he has a normal SLEEP PATTERN! I can’t do this anymore, Tristan. I can’t be with a baker. I mean, you’re a professional baker. A man who bakes. Who makes cookies and cakes all day. I need someone more…more… (quieter) serious.


TRISTAN

Serious? Serious? You think I just play little dessert games all day? Fine! Go be with the handsome, serious chef. See if I care! You never appreciated me! You never respected my profession! Just go!


Lorena slams the door, leaving Tristan alone in the bakeshop. He stares at the crumbled cookies on the floor. He takes deep breaths, an attempt to be tough. He fails, sinking to the floor and starts crying in his hands. (Fades.)


Scene Two: The Grocery Store.

Tristan is sadly moping around the aisles, every so often (seemingly at random) picking up baking ingredients and dropping them carelessly into his basket.. He is continuously sniffling and occasionally right out sobbing (pretty exaggerated and a little embarrassing for him, but he cannot help it). Other customers are giving him either strange, embarrassed looks or very sad, sympathetic looks. During this:


NARRATOR

Tristan, usually a rather happy, go-lucky man (but serious when he needed to be, certainly), was a baker. He had been for many, many years. He knew he wanted to for as long as he could remember. He still used the recipe he’d created as a boy for his very first cake – German chocolate with thick chocolate butter cream frosting. Tristan had worked hard in baking school and in all the restaurants and bakeries throughout the years, putting in 110% to his craft and climbing the ladder to get to be head pastry chef at the prestigious restaurant of the preceding scene. He’d been dating Lorena practically since he’d arrived at the restaurant, half a year ago, when he’d won the job over 14 other very good bakers. Lorena had begun flirting with him almost immediately. She’d idle around the bakeshop, asking him questions about baking, trying samples; seeming genuinely interested in him and his art. Tristan had been delighted and soon the two began dating. Now, in his despair, Tristan realized how deceptive it all had been, how Lorena had only been interested because of his title, and now so quickly won over by new prestige. Even so, he sobbed and sobbed, heart-broken and hurt. Bakers are sensitive people after all, even if they can be serious when they need to be.


TRISTAN

(mumbling not-so-quietly to himself) I can’t believe it, I just can’t believe it! After all we had together! All the soufflés I baked for her! The marzipan roses! The heart-shaped cupcakes! She told me she loved-


Tristan stops dead in his tracks, frozen. A hearty and silent pause before narrator starts up.


NARRATOR

The reason for Tristan suddenly freezing in his latest lament was because, right then and there in the produce aisle, he saw her. Rather, he saw her basket. He didn’t even see her yet. It was as if she was blurred, but the basket, well, the basket was crystal clear.

We see the blurry figure of a woman (a large pane of crystal glass is in front of her, but there is a hole and we can see the basket quite clearly – light is shining brightly on it – it is glorious.)

This basket, friends, was filled with-


TRISTAN (in a sort of daze)

-granulated sugar, all-purpose flour, baking powder, sour cream, butter, eggs, and poppy seeds. And-


NARRATOR

-The blurry figure was bent over the shelf of lemons, clearly intent on finding the three most perfect lemons. Obviously, she had-


TRISTAN

-ALL THE INGREDIENTS TO MAKE LEMON POPPY SEED MUFFINS. MY-


NARRATOR

-absolute favorite dessert. (pause) Tristan finally forced himself to look up from the basket, at the woman herself. He barely needed to, though. For he was perfectly certain that he had just found-


TRISTAN

-the love of my life.


The glass is slowly wheeled away from the woman. She is holding up a lemon to the light, trying to gauge any flaws. She and the lemon are both quite beautiful.


NARRATOR

Tristan gulped loudly. (gulps loudly) And he could not help but burst out grandly with the music of his brimming heart:


(bring light on Tristan)


TRISTAN (with musical troupe)

Let me be the lemon to your poppy seed

I will give you everything you’ll ever need

We’ll share flour, butter, and sour cream

For your sugar I will have an endless greed.

We’ll make heart-shaped muffins

Baked to golden brown

And when we wed,

You’ll wear a lemon-colored gown.

A lemon-colored gown.

(with Lemon chorus) Ohhhhhh, Lemons! Lemons! Lemons! Lemons!

Poppy Seeds! Poppy Seeds! Poppy Seeds! Poppy Seeds! (repeats 3 or 4 times)

Let me be the lemon to your poppy seed

I will give you everything you’ll ever need

We’ll share flour, butter, and sour cream

For your sugar I will have an endless greed.

Let me be your poppy seed.


(When the “Ohhhhhhh, Lemons!” section arrives, the chorus comes out and stands behind Tristan, playing instruments and singing along with him for the rest of the song. They also dance around the woman, who is oblivious to the entire number as she continues to focus on finding the last lemons. As the last line finishes, the stage lights go off and the chorus members slink off quickly. Normal lighting comes back on quickly and Tristan remains in his last pose, hands raised and reaching for the woman, who is now rummaging through her basket.)


NARRATOR

Well, the music was just in his head. Don’t you wish people really proclaimed their love like this in real life? Tristan did, too.


TRISTAN

(turns around, breathing heavily and trying to muster his courage)

(to himself) Okay, okay, I’m just going to walk over, and say “hi”. No that’s stupid – maybe, “Oh, are those lemons you’re choosing? I may be mistaken, but I do believe those are the ingredients for…” No way. How about, “My, do I love lemons… Oh – you too?” Okay, okay… that’s good, okay…

(Woman has left behind a shelf during his mustering – she walks through the audience and out of the theater)

(Tristan turns and says) MY, DO I LOVE LEM- oh. She’s gone.

(Tristan crazily searches around the aisles of the stage, into the audience.)

Hello? Uh, miss? Uh, Lemon Lady? Hello?


NARRATOR

“The Lemon Lady” was gone. In and out of his life, in an instant. But it didn’t matter. Tristan just knew that he would find her! And when he did, he would profess his love to her for real. And then they would make muffins together.


TRISTAN

(in the middle of the audience) I just know I’ll find her! And when I do, I’ll profess my love to her for real! And then we’ll make muffins together.


(Exits through audience.)

February 2010 - Comments Off

Stop Staring at my Bits


Joel Kennedy '10
Joel Kennedy is a composer and musician active in mediums including ensemble, guitar, synthesizer, 8-bit and drums.

February 2010 - Comments Off

Brother Playing in Wood Pile

Olympia Shannon '13

Olympia Shannon '13: Brother Playing in Wood Pile, Photograph


Olympia Shannon '13 is an aspiring photojournalist and has been doing film photography for the past five years.

February 2010 - Comments Off

Untitled

Santa Wolanczyk '11

Santa Wolanczyk '11: Untitled, rope and cornstarch paste

February 2010 - Comments Off

Pink Dress

Jennifer Jurgelewicz '10

Jennifer Jurgelewicz '10: Pink Dress, Cotton


Jennifer Jurgelewicz '10 studies costume design and voice at Bennington College.

February 2010 - Comments Off

Petal Dress

Jennifer Jurgelewicz '10

Jennifer Jurgelewicz '10: Petal Dress, Silk and Cotton


Jennifer Jurgelewicz '10 studies costume design and voice at Bennington College.

February 2010 - Comments Off

The Lizard Buzzard

Elizabeth Curran '10

The Lizard Buzzard; a small raptor, falls prey to eagle owls on the roost at night, Drawing


Elizabeth Curran '10 threw her head back and laughed loudly. (But she never laughs loudly and why is she laughing at all?)

February 2010 - Comments Off

Eight AM

Sara Judy '11

Sara Judy '11: Eight AM, Photograph


Sara Judy '11 studies literature and aspires to become a baker.

February 2010 - Comments Off

Untitled 2

Rachel Sherk '11

Rachel Sherk '11: Untitled 2, Collage

Rachel Sherk '11: Untitled 2, Collage

Rachel Sherk '11 likes to sew, hold old things, and drink coffee (she is also from Pennsylvania!).

February 2010 - Comments Off

Mourning Dove

Elizabeth Curran '10

Elizabeth Curran '10: Mourning Dove, Drawing

Elizabeth Curran '10: Mourning Dove, Drawing


Elizabeth Curran '10 threw her head back and laughed loudly. (But she never laughs loudly and why is she laughing at all?)

February 2010 - Comments Off

Flash Fire

Elliot Cash '13

Elliot Cash '13: Flash Fire, Canon Rebel XTi

Elliot Cash '13: Flash Fire, Canon Rebel XTi

Elliot Cash '13 has ten fingers.

February 2010 - Comments Off

Sacrifice

Elliot Cash '13

Elliot Cash '13: Sacrifice, Canon Rebel XTi

Elliot Cash '13: Sacrifice, Canon Rebel XTi

Elliot Cash '13 has ten fingers.

February 2010 - Comments Off

Scottish Highland Cow #1

Olympia Shannon '13

Olympia Shannon '13: Scottish Highland Cow #1, Photograph

Olympia Shannon '13: Scottish Highland Cow #1, Photograph


Olympia Shannon '13 is an aspiring photojournalist and has been doing film photography for the past five years.

February 2010 - Comments Off

Painted Hill

Yinglei Zhang

Yinglei Zhang: Painted Hill, Chinese Painting; ink and color on paper

Yinglei Zhang: Painted Hill, Chinese Painting; ink and color on paper


Yinglei Zhang is a Chinese artist and teacher. She grew up in China and came to United States in 1985. She teaches Chinese painting and calligraphy both privately and through Saint Michael’s College, Williams College and many other institutes in the area. She studied Chinese painting with Xubai Li ( China) , and Guozi Yu (Hong Kong) and has a BA in Chinese language and literature, an advanced certificate in Chinese classical literature and a Masters in Art Education. Yinglei currently teaches at Bennington College.

February 2010 - Comments Off

Window No. 2

Joel Kennedy '10

Joel Kennedy '10: Window No. 2, Drawing; Pencil and Pen with Digital Treatment

Joel Kennedy '10: Window No. 2, Drawing; Pencil and Pen with Digital Treatment


Joel Kennedy '10 is a composer and musician active in mediums including ensemble, guitar, synthesizer, 8-bit and drums.

February 2010 - Comments Off

Number Five

Hannah Kucharak '13

Hannah Kucharzak '13: Number Five, Canon EOS 650

Hannah Kucharzak '13: Number Five, Canon EOS 650


Hannah Kucharzak '13 enjoys the thrill of being alive.

February 2010 - Comments Off

Postcard Sunset

K. Raila '10

K. Raila '10: Postcard Sunset, Digital Painting

K. Raila '10: Postcard Sunset, Digital Painting


K. Raila '10 is an animator and illustrator who works mainly with digital media; further work and her complete bio can be found at www.kraila.com

February 2010 - Comments Off

Untitled

Rachel Piacenta '10

Rachel Piacenta '10: Untitled, C-Print

Rachel Piacenta '10: Untitled, C-Print


Rachel Piacenta '10 is currently a senior studying the intersection of visual arts and education. She has been using photography to understand how conceptual thinking is transformed into process and how this process is then explained to students.

February 2010 - Comments Off

Dead Grass

Emmet Penney '11


To do: remember that he is not you.

You have plateaued where he plummeted, stayed

afloat where he went under. Back when you

were younger, the inert july air made


you woozy in the back yard. He tried

and failed to keep himself from falling in

front of the neighbors. Mr. Baker sighed,

like, Now I know why I never liked him.


You watched as your mother shook him awake

then took him inside. It was like a crop

circle—even the new seeds failed to take.

After enough kids asked you learned to stop


trying at the truth. “It was just some bum.”

You can’t explain where marks like that come from.

February 2010 - Comments Off

Jerk-off Bro Art

Emily Gray Tareila '10: Jerk-Off Bro Art, embroidery on muslin with hoop

Emily Gray Tareila (tuh-ray-luh) '10 loves handmade things, cooking, sharing, families, relationships and the ways in which these topics are changing and evolving right now; she is also from new jersey.

February 2010 - Comments Off

Visions After Gathering

Sara Judy '11


1.


Clay-colored men outlined in the thick smoke;

I will hold them in my hair. The morning's

water frees them. My sweet grass ghosts, mourning

feet that touch the ground while moon shine coaxes


the beat out from resin-hard skin drums. Beads cloak

the arms of dancers, feet are offerings

painted red in dust and sweat, mixed. Cêskwa

I will tell you a story: what sleep softens.


In my dream I squat like a squaw, hunched up

over my ankles. And when I wake up

the sheets are wet, you are a still vision,

you become a soft woman, beside me.


I follow your spine in living worship.

I’ve never been in love with a woman.


2.


I’ve never been in love with a woman,

(I can see that you are not a woman)

but when you ask me, kapîsin, and touch

my breast soft as new leather, breathing such


that I can hear the distance between us

and sky. Endless prairie, suffocating sky.

I sleep in the dust of the arena, in the dust I lay,

in places tamped down from frantic dances


and frightened cattle weeping hot skin,

black cow eyes, beads rather, I remember

them red. I remember yellowed feathers


that were mostly black. I find one, worn thin,

under my body, think that must be why

I can’t sleep, not because of your absence.


3.


I can’t sleep, not because of your absence,

but because the wind will not leave my hair.

No, not my hair. It bends through the wheat spires,


those thin reedy women stand crowded, present

visions to fill the eye even at night,

singing we will be cut down soon. Thresher,


combine, saying them even tastes finite.

Hiding in red morning clouds, horror

lives here, too. Watching the dangerous sky,

Omisi, I will show you what they do:


while we are pierced and bound, metal mouths chew

into earth. You circle the pole four times,

ignore the spin of combine teeth, undone

for the whistle of a bird’s hollow bone.


4.


For the whistle of a bird’s hollow bone;

why do we insist on better reasons?

I long for the nights alone on the plains,

reaching for the milk-blue and yellow moon.

Visions come from the yarrow, whitlow-grass,

Moon is an illusion; they light themselves.


Instead I had those painted nights with you–

naked, too smooth. When I reached for you, passed

my hands to you across the dark bedroom

the quilt appeared to me, but no visions.


My elbow lifts me to the window, watching

I pretend to see a fox move, so low

that all I have is his grey back flexing.

The skin-taut moon is very much herself.


5.


The skin-taut moon is very much herself.

I push at the smoke. My hands move through it

as if it were a ghost, clothed in red bands

cast off from the fire. The sparks live, fly lit


to be reflected in eyes and glass beads.

I should get up for the dance, but I sit,

watch figures move in rings, the moon recedes.

The night takes over my eyes, barely lit

figures move to re-light the fire, to coax

away darkness. I tried singing, but spoke

to myself instead; tired woman, rise.

Wâpiw, can you see them? I strain my eyes

to see, profiled against one sky’s expanse,

three men moving, outlined in the thick smoke.


6.


Three men, moving outlined, in the thick smoke;

they will do this again tomorrow. Beating

drums that start down low, deep inside my chest

the circle passes with wide steps, bent heads.


How do they know what to do with their hands?

I never know. Their feathers blur, never rest.

This pains me, so I walk out to the vendors.

A large, old woman, dressed in jeans tells me


her dream catchers cost a dollar for four.

Their red beads are questions, or no, just beads.

I drink a warm canned soda and move bees

away from my face with slow, awkward hands.


If you were here would you buy the promise

of quiet sleep? Of a night without visions?


7.


Of quiet sleep, of a night without visions,

would you sing to me? Wash the smoke over

your body. I have heard you make the pledge:

braided sweet grass, four days without water.

Wail in early morning, meet in the woods

to make your war against ceremony.

The men will sing with you, show you how to

close your eyes, to not look at the women,


hanging your red strips of cloth in the trees.

Focus on your hands and the thirsting sun.

When we met, you let me ask a question:

What do you think to do by catching me?


Holding my arm you brought me out, saying

Kiya niya. Yes, but only for a while.


8.


I am yours, yes. But only for a while

can you keep me. Outside the painted dreams


I lose myself. Under your sky, I find

that I never belonged to you. I came

out from fields, milkweed and cone-flower; all

my red petals hang down, drag in the clay.

That is to say, I am from the expanse


between destinations. Stay too long, risk

my body to the fields of gumweed, sam-

phire, all gone to seed. Here they burn fires

for the night’s dance, collect embered feathers;

women paint visions across their cheekbones,


see sparks flying up and think: Manitou.

I lied to you; give me back to the moon

February 2010 - Comments Off

Stomach Stones


Written and Performed by Faith Griffiths '11 w/ Fiddle and Voice back-up by Amanda Vorce '10
Faith Griffiths has had a personal affirmation this term that she likes best creating work that is childish/fantastical/dinosaurs/baking/but-not-necessarily-just-for-children themed. In the past she did not believe that these were themes she could do serious and respectable work on; her time at Bennington proves that if she works very hard and is true to what is inside of her, "I most certainly can".

February 2010 - Comments Off

Untitled 1

Rachel Sherk '11

Rachel Sherk '11: Untitled 1, Collage

Rachel Sherk '11: Untitled 1, Collage

Rachel Sherk '11 likes to sew, hold old things, and drink coffee (she is also from Pennsylvania!).

February 2010 - Comments Off

Wisdom

Nick Janikian ‘13

The chair reclines as the oral surgeon presses down a button on the floor with her foot. She is reassuring, keeping a mundane but comforting conversation about my senior high school career flowing while she prepares the tools for the surgery. A drill, an IV needle with accompanying bag, filled with a mysterious liquid, and an assortment of other sharp looking tools not necessarily meant for the inside of the mouth all lie on a metal tray to my right. I am not worried, only antsy.

A large rubber tube with an opening in the middle is placed over my nose. The surgeon tells me to start taking heavy breaths. Laughing gas. I’m smiling almost immediately and stare at the plaster tiles on the ceiling. Each groove of the tiles is different, like thousands of rocks surrounding me in a cavernous enclosure. I’m floating now, my whole body becoming a giant balloon. The IV goes into a vein on my right arm, allowing what I think is water to travel slowly into my thirsty blood (it has been ten hours since my last bite of food or sip of water, doctor’s orders). The surgeon comforts me, asking if I’m feeling okay. I tell her yes, my voice a weak, giggling whimper. I’m still smiling, on the verge of laughter as I keep inhaling and exhaling through the contraption on my face. She places monitoring devices on my right index finger, right and left wrists. The beeps on the monitor send me into a state of desolate brain activity. Every thought stops and then starts again by the beeping intervals of the machine.

Another woman enters the room, smiling at me and asking if I remember her. Of course I remember her. She's the receptionist from the front desk. I then realize I have no idea how long ago it was I was out in the waiting room, inattentively flipping through a magazine as I awaited this procedure. I picture my father still sitting out there, reading his book and chuckling out loud at the witty little passages that he tried to explain to me (without much interest on my part, but considering the gravity of my situation, could I really be to blame?).

The surgeon tells me she is starting the anesthesia and if the ceiling starts to spin, it’s a perfectly normal reaction. She is correct in her explanation; the plaster tiles slowly rock back and forth, move into a swirling motion, and remind me of Van Gogh's “Starry Night”. I don’t fall fully asleep, yet I am not aware of what is happening to me. My perception of time is lost, my eyelids heavy and free. At certain points I feel awake, conscious enough to have a clear image of the surgeon and the receptionist removing my wisdom teeth. I do not know if this is a figment of my chemically impaired imagination or a murky reality.

The operation ends in a cloudy haze, my vision and motions like that of a car crawling through an October morning fog. I shuffle slowly back to the waiting room, my knees weak and loose. I am stuck in my own state of mind, not aware of others around me. My father escorts me out of the surgeon’s office and into the car.

I arrive home not feeling much pain, just the taste of iron from the blood in the back of my mouth. My spit is a vibrant red like that of a heavily dyed fruit punch. Two small gauze pads sit atop the bottom-back corners of my mouth. The surgeon told me these pads are vital for the forming of blood clots. Still, trying to talk with gauze layering my teeth is not a lighthearted affair. My father fills two bags with frozen peas and places them into tube socks. He tells me to hold them against my cheeks. This task quickly becomes tiresome so I use an elastic band to keep them in place as I watch television. Every twenty minutes, the pea-filled socks come off, go back into the freezer for twenty minutes and then return to my face. Twenty on, twenty off. Everything has become an exhausting process.

For my first night of rest (or rather lack thereof), I have been instructed to sleep in a propped up position with my back flat, body facing forward. This is unfortunate considering I cannot recall a single night in my entire life in which I’ve fallen asleep this way. With my head inclined by two pillows, I sit back in an armchair and try to sleep. My mouth is sore, the pressure from my jaw sharp and constant. My neck is tense, strained from this awkward position. I look like a vampire resting in his coffin. I can’t sleep so I move from the armchair to a sofa, propping myself up with more pillows. No luck. I move to another sofa and end up lying awake for 4 more hours until the sun comes up. All hope of sleep is lost.

My diet for the first few days after the surgery consists of pudding, ice cream, mashed potatoes, refried beans, jello, chicken broth and water. To some this may seem like a dream come true but the desire for hard, substantial food drives me to the edge of insanity. I miss the feeling of grinding up nutritious delights between my teeth, which have been rendered useless by inflammation and pain. My jaw throbs and my gums burn whenever I accidentally open my mouth too wide, generally yawning or trying to talk. I watch as my parents indulge in a delicious meal, munching away with powerful bites that I am utterly incapable of performing.

The swelling at my jaw line extends into my cheeks. I appear as I did in my pubescent days, chubby and clueless. Frozen peas no longer help. I sprawl my body across the couch and escape reality, entering a world of sitcom reruns and romantic comedies. Daytime TV programming proves to be almost as dreadful as my appearance.

Five days in, the bleeding has long since ceased and the swelling starts to fade, my skin no longer stretches across my face in an unequal fashion. These early teases of a healthy recovery make each day move by quicker, sunrise to sunset no longer takes an unbearable amount of time. I close my eyes and fantasize about my first solid meal: a juicy steak, cooked medium-well, accompanied by a baked potato (no more of that mashed nonsense) slathered in a heap of almost melted butter. For dessert a slice of chocolate cake with thickets of creamy frosting. Ah, the sweet bliss of chewing once again like a person with a fully developed set of teeth. I can barely stand the thought of these foods, can barely wait for their triumphant return to my palate.

Seven days after the extraction I look into the mirror to see a face staring back that will not scare off innocent bystanders, pedestrians simply strolling down the sidewalk to bask in the afternoon sun. Jolts of pain throughout my mouth still occasionally take hold of me, but, for the most part, they are much more subdued than those in the exhausting days past. The rawness of the sites of incision remind me of fresh puddles of mud an hour after a torrential downpour, soft and loose atop the wet earth. The dissolvable stitches still protrude from the corners of the inside of my mouth, poking and prodding my tongue. Hopefully they will soon wither away and release their wretched grips on my fleshy mouth tissue.

By the passing of the tenth day, post-surgery, I have made a full recovery. I walk amongst the masses, once again a human, with the permanent absence of four useless teeth. The two teeth the surgeon allowed me to keep are stored in a small transparent plastic case. The case sits atop a shelf on my desk on display as a reminder of the experience. Whenever my eyes wander over to it, a chill sails up my spine, echoing flashbacks of what was and always will be the loss of my wisdom teeth.

February 2010 - Comments Off

New Revelations on Euphrates

Crystal Barrick '11

And now, a shrinking river.

O, on the bank of the birthplace
of civilization, we turn around and we

are salt, are surrounded by
mounds of salt, excavated

from waves, from our desires—

piled, hollowed out; we
are tired. But we are unashamed.

Disregarding drought, we muscled
in crops, canals. With hard and heavy

hands we chased away
farmers, fishermen, other allusions

to God: We did this, needing.
We did this, knowing

when our Euphrates runs dry,
so will our burdens—

so was the revelation,
so is the Word.

We look up now

from our work, mouthing
prayers for smoke and trumpet sound,

for locusts like horses,
like women, like lions.

He who has no ear,
let Him hear our Spirit—

Loosen our angels!
We cry as we have tried

to pry them from
the calloused banks ourselves,

and failed.

February 2010 - Comments Off

Spring Water

Yinglei Zhang

Yinglei Zhang: Spring Water, Chinese Painting; ink and color on paper

Yinglei Zhang is a Chinese artist and teacher. She grew up in China and came to United States in 1985. She teaches Chinese painting and calligraphy both privately and through Saint Michael’s College, Williams College and many other institutes in the area. She studied Chinese painting with Xubai Li ( China) , and Guozi Yu (Hong Kong) and has a BA in Chinese language and literature, an advanced certificate in Chinese classical literature and a Masters in Art Education. Yinglei currently teaches at Bennington College.

December 2009 - Comments Off

Takamine

Jenny Rae Bailey '12

I piece you here—

steady, freshly strung,
a hum from your
belly, delicate.
Made to soften
my rigid spine. How

you encourage,
upright against the
wall. Your silence
loud as any blank
page. I listen
for the strum of your

tendril, perhaps a
chord is formed. To
me, a gentle phrase
as your body
exhales: strings rough and
smooth, neck long, frets
perfectly aligned.

December 2009 - Comments Off

On the Invention of Innocence

Abbey White '13


I.

He came from a place that made you want to beat back the world.


At the wheel his heart-shaped lips pouting about words of war

and ghosts helped carry us down the black river, a brown baby boat

slicing through still air towards a place we wouldn’t call home.

Without sure destination we allowed ourselves to be swept away

by easy refrains, smooth lines that made up for swallowed phrases,

eras we found ourselves singing all loud and shameless. From time

to time my licorice gaze would sweep over the side of his face

that was glowing. And in this certain Arizona light, he possessed

a silhouette that made me long to watch his head fall back.


II.

This type of landscape could make me forget where I’d been.


I found my fingers tangled in ginger curls, a gesture that had him

fumbling over words that typically flowed in proverbial harmony.

Shamelessly did I trace bone structure, lean closer and whisper

expressions reserved solely for lovers. On the radio, Cole Porter

lulled Anything Goes. And I believed him. Nothing was to be

concrete on this melting asphalt. Nothing but what was shoved

furiously in suitcases after we’d felt the allure of second chances.

Was there a moment I could’ve paused to reevaluate? I wouldn’t

know. Desire took over and things moved too quickly to notice.


III.

What a thing to learn: how to create too much friction.


It would be here, in his ’69 Camero, where I’d kiss

lonely freckles, follow their trail with soft sighs to his lips

while fingertips danced over heaving earth-toned skin. Forgetting

blouses and frayed jeans, forgetting our minds and bodies,

forgetting repercussions of the previous—our only intent?

To meet the other’s needs. And oh, what a thing to learn—

the true heaviness of our pitiful limbs—as we struggled and

tussled, back and forth, in and out, picking up where the other left

off. Under the blazing sun there was too much heat between us.


- Based on Dorianne Laux’s Singing Back The World

December 2009 - Comments Off

Elmhurst, Illinois

Emmet Penney '11


Summer days stood still. They rippled

up from asphalt parking lots. Edges bent,

the horizon accepted the sun. The earth


shrugged. Cheerleaders wilted at the fifty

yard line and burnouts became lodged

in their parents’ throats. Flags lied limp


at the tops of their poles. We looked out

at night skies sliced by 747s. Satellites

marked the middle-ground between


our bodies and the stars. We learned it from

echoes overheard on contusion colored nights: only

trains leave this town. Not people, not anyone


we knew. Not even us. Everyday felt exactly

the same—like waiting to breathe.

December 2009 - Comments Off

Troy

Eyla Cuenca '10

Eyla Cuenca '10: Troy, 4x5 Chrome Photograph

Eyla Cuenca '10: Troy, 4x5 Chrome Photograph