Monday, September 5, 2011

call + answer project

I have to back up a bit to tell the whole story:  I went to Bread Loaf, came back wanting a tattoo.  Shawn Hebrank, super-talented tattoo artist, who happens to be married to one of my top most favorite people in the entire world, offered a trade of press time on my Kelsey for the tattoo.  Fastforward:  he and his talented wife have started four-letterpress, and she is currently a mentee at the Minnesota Center for the Book Arts.

(Some day, the backstory will spool out a bit more clearly, but I wanted a few blips to get us where we are today.)

Meryl, who is featured many, many times in these above photos, along with our friend Colleen, met Amanda Lovelee through this mentorship.  Amanda is a visual artist, focusing on film, and she is attracted to subjects of the scientific and social variety.  In this particular project, she has taken a look at the community and culture of square dance, and in particular, she is interested in the ways in which square dance can bring together a group of strangers and they, by the rules of the dance, are forced to touch.  (See her blog on this:  Call and Answer Project.)

Each mentee must put together a project at the end of the program, and part of Amanda's is a series of small books, which focus on information or instruction regarding the dance.  Earlier in the summer, she had an overnight party at MCBA, in which there was square dancing on the main floor of the galleries and in the basement, on the Vandercooks, there was print shifts, which is where you could find Meryl and Shawn.  (In hindsight, I wish I had gone when Meryl threw the Facebook invite my way, though it would have been difficult leaving Maya in the night, as she still nurses and the three of us co-sleep. Still. Today reminds me of that kind of freeing, arts-community feeling that I often struggle with in being a mother and all its inherent obligations.  I will find balance, but it's most difficult right now, when she needs me the most.)

The day was really a lovely one, save a small smattering of rain, which swamped a bit of the field.  We slogged through it nonetheless, and the sky cleared and there was much hand-holding by strangers.  There are days like these that I know will come to me in the depths of winter and I will think, "Yes, that was perfect."  Sitting on the lawn:  some of us barefoot, grass clinging to our fingers and toes, watermelon in a paper basket, Maya with her first bits of orange dribbling down her front, a video on a loop near the entryway to the museum that makes the heart hum with warmth, the transition from eyebrow-raised confusion (a project on square dancing? really?) to getting it, thinking of how few opportunities we have in life to come together as a community, both this small one, the three poetesses along with my partner and our baby, and the larger one, the one that had me run into someone I knew from an activist community nearly a decade ago, of friends making new friends, of hula hoops and future possibilities.

Oh thank you, Meryl, for bringing us together in this way, and a big thank you and congratulations to Amanda (who is expecting her own first minnow in February--that's her in the first picture and later on too) for a successful afternoon.  I'm sure it must feel delightful to be at the other side, looking back on a project well-launched.

And I am dumbfounded at myself for forgetting to hold hands with a stranger and get a free booklet of my own, but I am sure Meryl will let me peruse her booty, as I believe she gets the collector's set for her time at MCBA, keeping that press rolling.

Full photoset here:  call and answer project on Flickr  (and a sequence of cute photos and a few words about Maya on this day via this post on roots + wings).

PS:  If this photo, which seems to be iconic of this Minnesota project, became a print, I so would purchase one to frame and put in my home.  It would happily remind me of this day.

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