Janelle Lynch , Presence TB, 2013; Color photograph; Courtesy of the artist

Janelle Lynch , Presence TB, 2013; Color photograph; Courtesy of the artist

From NYC: BPAC Artist-in-Residence Entry 1, October 10, 2013

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Dear Tony,

As much as I wanted to savor the poems in A Thing that Is, the Robert Lax book you gave me, I read them in two days. Their resonance with my artist-in-residence project is uncanny, beginning with the first poem in the collection, unnumbered and untitled (the only one not written in Greece, but most likely in Olean):

There is no poem, no painting
that will hold on paper or canvas
the look of the three trees
standing in the valley
with their young green leaves.
They are three girls
pouring speech like water
poised and waiting
for their dancing lesson.
They are three girls on tiptoe
with arms uplifted
dancing in the valley’s early light.

Like Burchfield with his paintings, me with my photographs, in this poem Lax attributes human form and behavior to the natural world. In my July presentation of my artist-in-residence work-in-progress, I shared that I consider the images in Presence portraits and self-portraits. They celebrate my kinship with Burchfield, which is based in part on a mutual reverence for and anthropomorphic vision of nature. The work has emerged from my intuitive process exploring the landscape and my experience accompanied by Burchfield’s silent presence and the BPAC community’s active, generous presence, beginning with yours.

The title of each image includes a reference number and initials that represent the names of those who have been influential to my residency. Presence 6 (SP) is named after Scott, Presence 2 (NW) is named after Nancy, and Presence 10 (TB) is named after you.

You know about some of my challenges over the months as I’ve been working on the project. Presence 10 (TB) is a self-portrait and, contrarily, depicts me at my best: dancing with joy. What a radical departure in my practice!

Thanks to your trust and the freedom it afforded me, Lax’s poem 2, conveys my state of mind while making Presence 10 (TB):

(excerpt)

2
re
move
the
line
of de
mar
cay
be
tween
work
work
&
play
pla|y
play

Lax’s poem 10, is what I tried to bring to mind during those difficult moments when I couldn’t see a thing:

(excerpt)

10
be
gin
by
be
ing
pa
tient
with
your
self

Seventy-four pages and thirty-two poems later, at the end of the book I found:

33 The Presence
is there
a pre-
sence
in the
house
that
calls
?
a pre-
sence
in the
house
that
calls
us
chil-
dren
?

i
an-
swer
&
my
moth-
er
an-
swers
&
my
moth-
er’s

moth-
er
an
swers
&

my
moth-
er’s
moth-
er’s
moth-
er
an-
swers:
what
?
what,
fa-
ther
?
&
my
fa-
ther
calls
my
fa-
ther’s
fa-
ther
calls
my
fa-
ther’s
fa-
ther’s
fa-
ther’s
fa-
ther
calls

33 Presence led me many places, as I’m sure you can imagine, including to my etymological dictionary:

Serendipity

1754 (but rare before 20c.), coined by Horace Walpole (1717-92) in a letter to Horace Mann (dated Jan. 28); he said he formed it from the Persian fairy tale "The Three Princes of Serendip," whose heroes "were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of.”

I was also led back to 2006 and a meeting with our mutual colleague Bob Lobe who, after looking at my first tree stump photographs from Chiapas, introduced me to Burchfield’s work.

With gratitude for all,

Janelle

 

Janelle Lynch is the 2013 Burchfield resident artist. She has garnered international recognition over the last decade for her large-format photographs of the urban and rural landscape. Widely exhibited, her work is in several public and private collections including the Burchfield Penney, George Eastman House Museum, the Brooklyn Museum, the Newark Museum, the Fundación Vila Casas, Barcelona, and the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Salta, Argentina.

 

 

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