Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Intersection of Poetry and Art with Chemistry

One of the great things about living around a city like Raleigh is that there is so much good and interesting local work going on in all the arts--music, visual arts, theater, dance, and writing.  I think it is a great thing to bring middle school students to local venues where they can see art being created by "real people" (rather than celebrity artists whom they may never meet).  Not only does seeing local art inspire them and suggest that it is actually possible for do art for a career, but usually local artists are great about talking to students and being able to answer questions about their work and their creative process.

So I occasionally take my son to First Fridays in Raleigh (like I noted in last Friday's blog post), and more frequently to Final Fridays in Cary (same general idea, but much lower key--but we can walk to it).  But this afternoon we visited two other local venues that support the arts, and had an incredible mixture of artistic experiences.

First I went to visit my friend Charlene's business, Gallery C, an art gallery located in the Wellspring Shopping Center on Wade Avenue.   Charlene, besides being a great person, runs a wonderful gallery that specializes in contemporary American artist, with a focus on North Carolina art (although she also does a brisk business in antique maps--I have even gotten to see there some original prints of the De Bry engravings of early 17th century America).  And while I usually enjoy her exhibits, she has a phenomenal one there right now.

Entitled "Mothers of Abstraction," the walls are adorned with Diane Patton's colorful abstracts of her hikes along the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Those are great, but what really captured my attention were the unique blown glass sculptures created by a revolutionary new Chatham county artist, Sally Resnik Rockriver.

I'm pretty good with language, but I can't find the words to describe these pieces.  They literally do not look like they are from this world--unless, perhaps, from the depth of the oceans or the furnace of a volcano.  Indeed, many of them have names from outside our terrestrial experience--names like "Saturn's Birth" or "Angel's Reef" or "Candy Cave" or "Pluto's Castle."  So just look at them at the bottom of this webpage or this webpage.

If you think you've never seen anything like this before, it is because you haven't.  And this where the neat thing about going to small local galleries comes in.  Charlene told us the story of Ms. Rockriver, the daughter of a famous North Carolina potter mother (Resnik) and someone who taught science at UNC.  Rockriver was a potter until she started fooling around blowing glass with a colleague of hers who works in that medium.  But Rockriver wanted to add the ceramic glazes she used in her pottery to her glass work. The conventional wisdom was "It physically can't be done."  But drawing on the chemical science part of her background, she figured out how to do it.  So her pieces combine traditional blown glass with ceramic glazes from pottery, making her art unique in the industry.

So by getting to know our local galleries, we not only get exposed to great art, but get to hear the stories behind the creations.

We followed up our art with a poetry reading at our marvelous independent book store, Quail Ridge Books.  The poetry reading was in honor of a new poetry anthology, printed by a local publisher, called The Sound of Poets Cooking.  This book features NC poet laureates and other local and national poets who contributed both recipes and poems dealing with food.  There are all kinds of different poems and different types of recipes in the book, the proceeds of which go to fund writing workshops in disadvantaged communities.  Food is a great topic for poetry that a younger audience will listen and respond to, so that was another great educational event made possible by a different kind of business that supports other types of artists.  Plus, cooking is counted as chemistry in our homeschool.

Anyway, when you are looking for ways to supplement your middle schoolers education, don't overlook all the wonderful businesses we have in our area supporting the arts.  And when you can, support those organizations with your purchases; especially in these hard economic times, they won't always be around if we don't give them any business.

The "Mother of Abstraction" exhibit will only be on display for another couple of weeks, so if you are in the area, make a point of stopping by and checking it out.

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