Listening through the Fall

A year ago, I was in the midst of preparing to leave for a winter and spring in Canada. As with so many things in life, that stint seems both recent and long ago. A much-needed summer focused on family and then an intensive fall semester of teaching have drawn my attentions in other directions, so I have tried to find ways to maintain some focus on moving forward in my artistic inquiries into listening.

Letters Not To Be Read #28, 2022, ink on paper

For the last few years, I’ve found it helpful to initiate a month-long daily practice in September, to carve out a bit of time for my own making in the midst of the beginning-of-semester whirlwind. This September it felt particularly important as a way of holding onto ideas from my fellowship time. I picked up a thread I began a few years ago, in asemic writing experiments with a friend, and I created a series of 30 Letters Not To Be Read. These will be included next month in SHUSH, an exhibition about secrets and silence curated by Micala Gingrich-Gaylord for Harvester Arts. Along with the letters, I wrote a series of daily listening scores, invitations to listen, which have since become a series of digital prints and will soon be an audio piece as well. Here’s just one of the September Scores:

Days hurry by
and years rush past,
handfuls and buckets of time
slipping away

Press pause and let yourself listen
in a stunned, hurried hush

Take a moment to write down a memory
before it runs off-

a sentence
a fragment
a few simple phrases

Words to remember
what has already been lost

In October I traveled to Minneapolis to finally install an exhibition that was postponed by 2-1/2 years because of the pandemic. In/Visible Care is on display in the Outlook Gallery at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts, October 12, 2022 – January 14, 2023. The Outlook Gallery is basically a window gallery that overlooks the street. It’s a fascinating liminal space between interior and exterior, between artist workspace and urban downtown. Embroidering in residence in the window during opening weekend offered me the opportunity to observe and be observed, to listen in new ways to the populations in this setting. When I return in January for the closing, I imagine that the cold and snow of Minnesota winter will alter the experience again and I look forward to those discoveries.

I’ve had various opportunities this fall to share some of my thinking about listening as artistic method, and those chances help keep the ideas at the forefront of my mind as I determine next steps. Thanks to Maria Velasco for inviting me to work with her University of Kansas students, and to Elena Marchevska for inviting me to co-teach a workshop for graduate students at Liverpool John Moores University. I reconnected with friends and colleagues in a great panel on Listening as Ethical Framework at the Universities Art Association of Canada conference, held in Toronto this fall. A publication long-in-process finally came to fruition this fall, which included my essay on “Caring for our Futures: Epistolary Praxis and the Promise of Slow.” Doctoral student Jill Price interviewed me as part of her research into “un/making,” and our conversation is available to read here. And my conversation with Charles Reeve about listening was published as the final episode in Season 1 of the Renewing the World podcast. Take a listen!

100 Days of Walking, detail, 2022, accordion book installation

Finally, I am excitedly preparing to open a solo exhibition, Invitations to Listen, at the Mulvane Art Museum in early 2023. This show will highlight much of the work I created during the Fulbright, which went into studio storage after I arrived home, so now I am assembling, matting, recording, braiding, and finalizing all the last details for this installation in the New Year.

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