Art, Music and Poetry Connect at Berman Museum

Diary of the One Swelling Sea, an interdisciplinary collaboration between poet Jill McCabe Johnson, visual artist Corinne Duchesne and composer and Ursinus Visiting Professor Garrett Hope, asks visitors to fully engage with three different modes of artistic expression. The resultant work can be experienced March 21 through May 16 in the Upper Gallery of the Philip and Muriel Berman Museum of Art. An opening reception will be held on March 20 from 4 to 7 p.m.

Monkey Cup #1

Corinne Duchesne, Monkey Cup #1, 2013

The integrated works of art reflect the visual, verbal and musical modes of expression. The “conversation” between the three is a response between the collaborators that pushes the boundaries of their respective disciplines, while also replicating their primary subject matter, the sea, with its own form in constant flux. The work takes its title from the recently published book of the same name by Johnson (MoonPath Press: 2013).

With Johnson’s poetry as the seed, the artists have created works that speak to each other, while challenging the traditional forms of their individual genres. Johnson’s poems, written in the imagined voice of the sea, resist traditional poetic and even stanzaic forms by drifting across the page in undulating lines that emulate the tides. Diary of the One Swelling Sea was written, in part, with the intention of pulling readers out of their human-centric, land-based perspective, and to view the world from the perspective of the oceans and the ocean-based life forms that are mostly unaware of human existence, yet deeply threatened by human behaviors.

“The hope was to instill an impression of the human species as one of tens of thousands of species on the planet, all equally important and vital to a vast network of ecosystems,” said Johnson. “Additionally, emulating the topophilia, or love of the land, of Wordsworth’s poetry, my aim was to inspire what I call meriphilia, or love of the sea, so that readers would consider all of the earth, both land and sea, as their home, and feel a sense of place within and responsibility for our planet.”

Duchesne’s paintings sometimes veer from the typical, quadrilateral bounds and introduce more organically shaped media, affecting not only the painting’s shapes, but also creating evocative shadows to indicate how a painting’s visual impression—and the experience of all artwork, for that matter—echoes beyond first sight.

Hope’s music blends acoustic and electronically produced sounds wedding musique concréte with total synthesis to create an aural environment, he notes. The music expresses the indescribable qualities of the art and poetry without forcing a specific interpretation.

Jill McCabe Johnson is the author of the poetry collection Diary of the One Swelling Sea. According to the critic and syndicated columnist Barbara Lloyd Michaels, the poems, which are told in the voice of the sea, are “a broth of scientific precision and finely honed wordplay.” Johnson is the Louise Van Sickle Fellow in Poetry at the University of Nebraska, and founder of the non-profit Artsmith, providing artist residencies, workshops, and a reading series. She lives in the San Juan Island archipelago in the Salish Sea.

Corinne Duchesne is an award-winning Canadian artist and has exhibited extensively in Canada, the United States, South Korea, and Europe. Among Duchesne’s many awards, she is also a recipient of the Ontario Arts Council, Mid Career Artist Grant. She graduated from the Ontario College of Art and Design, studied during her final year, at the Off-Campus Program in Florence Italy, with Tom Lapierre. Duchesne is a fulltime Drawing Professor, at Sheridan College, Faculty of Animation, Arts and Design, in the Visual and Creative Arts Program.

Garrett Hope is an award-winning composer and multi-instrumentalist living in Pennsylvania. Prior to Ursinus, he has taught at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, the University of Northern Colorado, the Larimer campus of Front Range Community College, and Colorado Christian University. Dr. Hope’s music encompasses the full range of acoustic and electronic music in a variety of styles and he has had pieces performed across the United States and Europe. He is also co-developer of the Post-Tonal Toolkit app for analysis and composition of contemporary music. He has degrees from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, the University of Northern Colorado, and Colorado Christian University. He teaches music theory and music technology and conducts the string ensemble at Ursinus.

The Philip and Muriel Berman Museum of Art at Ursinus College is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, and noon to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The Museum is closed Mondays and College holidays. The Museum is accessible to visitors with disabilities.  Admission is always free. Exhibitions and programs are funded in part by a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. The Berman Museum is among a small number of museums accredited by the American Alliance of Museums.

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