Pairings: Poets and Painters

In the previous issue of the journal I launched this “corner” in which collaboration between poets and painters might happen. Here’s the language I used to describe the next steps:
I’ve conceived of this ‘corner’ of Tupelo Quarterly as a loosely bounded place for poets and painters, a place of mutual usefulness, of reverberations. In TQ2 I will invite poets to write poems in response to images by one or two of my favorite contemporary painters . . . I will then select a number of pairings of image and poem for posting in the following edition of TQ, and the conversation will have begun! I expect the TQ collaborative exchanges to evolve over time, perhaps leading to the inclusion of arts other than poetry and painting. This is a place to start, at once freewheeling yet slightly constrained.
I have invited three of my favorite visual artists to take part: Karl Mullen, Sara Farrell Okamura and Gabriela Vainsencher. I asked each of them to choose three works they would most like to see put into poetic conversation: the nine works reproduced here thus represent the artists’ direct invitation to poets to respond. I am grateful to Sara and Karl and Gabriela for their enormous gifts and for their openness to this experiment in (virtual) collaboration. Come, join the company!
In the coming weeks I, in conversation with the artists, will solicit particular poets to answer the call of these images. We will publish the results of these collaborations in TQ3.
But what about the promise of freewheelingness above? I hope that the readers of TQ find these images as startling and generative as I do. I will be eager to read the poems, or fragments of poems, that these works inspire in you. Watch the TQ Facebook page in the next months for invitations to share your work!
Cassandra Cleghorn
Associate Editor





Karl Mullen, born in Dublin, Ireland, lives and works in Williamstown MA. He has developed his own non-traditional approach to art making and materials, using a combination of walnut oil, raw powder pigment, wine, tea and a wax medium that coalesce into color-saturated, luminous images. Painting largely with his hands, Karl creates distinctive, poetic figures that float on fields of color. Mullen’s work is shown in galleries throughout North America and Europe, and in the annual Outsider Art Fair in New York. His most recent residency was at the No Boundaries International Art Colony on Bald Head Island, Cape Fear, North Carolina.


Sara Farrell Okamura, a graduate of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston has been a working artist for over 26 years. In that time she has exhibited work locally, nationally and internationally. She has been the recipient of grants from the Illinois Arts Council and the A.R.T. Fund sponsored by the Berkshire Taconic Foundation. She has exhibited work at the International Print Center in New York, participated in exhibitions at Thompson Giroux Gallery in Chatham, New York and Press Gallery, North Adams, MA. She is founding executive director of Northern Berkshire Creative Arts, a community based hands-on arts center.


Gabriela Vainsencher is an Argentine-born Israeli artist living and working in Brooklyn. Her drawings, installations and videos have been shown in the US and abroad, including a 2012 two-person exhibition at the Musee d’Art Moderne, Le Havre, France, that added Vainsencher’s video, Reconstruction, to their collection. Recent solo exhibitions include Recession Art gallery, New York, NY, and La Chambre Blanche, Quebec City. She has participated in artist residencies including Yaddo, The Atlantic Center for the Arts, and La Chambre Blanche (Canada). Vainsencher is the founder of the Morning Drawing Residency, writes about art The Huffington Post and occasionally teaches art at Williams College, in Williamstown, MA. She will enter the MFA program at Hunter College in January 2014.