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Nasher Presents Poetic Art Program
by Gail Sachson 13 Jun 2012

Guest blogger Gail Sachson reports from the Nasher Sculpture Center’s inaugural Gallery Lab Series event.

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Glenn Shaheen reads his work at the Gallery Lab series.

Guest blogger Gail Sachson owns Ask Me About Art, offering lectures. tours, program planning and consultation. She is a member of the KERA Community Advisory Board.

Through innovative programming, the Nasher  Sculpture Center proves that looking at art can be exhilarating, insightful and – in this case – poetic.

The Gallery Lab series, free with admission or membership, debuted Sunday with an eager audience of about 15.  The new series promises to present “unexpected viewpoints on art with artists and voices from other disciplines.” With that in mind, we gathered on a weekend afternoon to see what two young, accomplished and award-winning poets could elicit from us that mere looking could not.  Some of us were poets. Some were writers. Some of neither. But the welcoming spirit and casual demeanor of poets Lauren Berry of Houston and Glenn Shaheen of Michigan inspired us all to look more deeply and respond more personally.

First, the poets read their poems, which are inspired by three works on view: Bronze Crowd by Magdalena Abaakanowicz, Large Horse by Raymond Duchamp-Villon (pictured) and Ne Plus Ultra by Erick Swenson. Then, Berry and Shaheen encouraged us to write our own poems as reactions to what we saw. Written suggestions from Nasher curator of education Anna Smith and education coordinator Tom Jungerberg referencing Large Horse helped: “Think about machines. What are they capable of that an animal would not be? Think about animals. What are they capable of that a machine might not be? Write a poem that is half machine and half animal.” (In five minutes.)

At the conclusion of the 90-minute workshop, our poems were, without hesitation, voluntarily read aloud. Memories from childhood, questions, answers, doubts and some humor were heard. The time spent together created a comfortable camaraderie and inspired creativity – even in crunch time. With the Gallery Lab series, the Center has once again presented a new avenue in which to admire and acquire art as our own. It adds to the ongoing Nasher programming of unconventional music, dance and conversation  (360 Speakers, Sightings, Soundings and Salons). There are now three works which the Gallery Lab participants will never forget. Through our own poetic connection to them, we now can claim them as our own.

The Gallery Lab Series will continue Aug. 23 at 6:30 p.m. with artists Michael Corris, Chair of the SMU Art Department, and Bret Slater, recent SMU/MFA graduate.

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