Colorado Poets Center E-Words Issue #7
Inside issue #7:
An Interview with Suzanne Bronson
CPC: On your email, the subject line has “Art is a lie”. Where does that come from?
Suzanne: It’s a quote from Picasso: “Art is a lie that makes us realize truth”--that encapsulates how I feel.
CPC: You’ve mentioned that art has always influenced what you write. Where did your interest in art begin?
Suzanne: Growing up in New York, I went to all the museums. The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art were my favorites. I loved to be able to stand so close to the works of Rousseau, Degas, Van Gogh, Dali, and Pollack.
I also enjoyed watching the effect the work had on other people in the salon. Why did one painting or statue give people pause to look when others didn’t? The answer is, it has to convey. It must communicate something. There has to be a visual commonality between the artist and the viewer. That is why I was there to look at these art pieces. I needed the confirmation that someone else had a different point of view. Someone else could see what I see and the way that I see it.
CPC: Do you feel you’re in an artistic community here?
Suzanne: I am very fortunate to have artist friends out here in Colorado. I think that we all inspire each other in many different ways. Stephanie Amos (also known as SAMOS) is a painter, potter, and sculptor. You can review her bio at www.koistudios.et/artist/ntml. Caole Lowry is also a visual artist and owner of The Planet Earth gallery, who has supported the arts in many mediums here in Grand Junction. You can see her bio at:
When my book came out in 2007, I didn’t want just the conventional book signing. It was Caole who introduced me to Stephanie and also the singer Sierra Ness. The four of us sat down to a meeting and we didn’t just have a gallery opening, or a musical evening, or a book premiere—we planned an event.
Stephanie’s new bronzes of The Nine Muses and her latest paintings were spread throughout the gallery, Sierra’s voice filled the space, and I read selections from my book. It was quite an evening of various art forms and very well received.
A few weeks later, Stephanie asked me if she could have a few of my poems to work and interpret into paintings. She would paint her vision of the piece and have the words also painted onto the canvas. I was excited and thrilled to be asked. When I write a piece of poetry, I always hope that I’m painting a picture for the reader or listener. However, this would be more immediate and for the first time, something tactile.
CPC: Could you briefly describe the performance piece called “The Medicine Wheel?”
Suzanne: “The Medicine Wheel” began simply as a phone call from Caole one morning. She wanted me to write a performance piece for the 2008 Renegade Art Show. It is a non-juried collective art event held in a real, working warehouse with boxes, steel cages, and lift trucks. Caole wanted to represent the medicine wheel, the circle of life used by many native peoples. It is represented by the four colors: white, red, yellow, and black; the four directions; and the four representations of time: past, present, future, and infinity.
I asked her myriad questions that morning and furiously took some very bad shorthand, but I was fascinated by the idea. Caole and Stephanie were to sew these reams of cloth in each color that would hang from the warehouse’s 100 foot ceiling, we would have a small centerpiece of stones, shoes, and candles, and I would write and perform the piece.
What I decided to do was write it from the perspective of each of the elements in a modern form. I would touch on the native traditions, but put it into terms that can be used today.
CPC: Can you say what your current working project will involve?
Suzanne: What I’ve said about “The Medicine Wheel” will, I think, also shape the new work—“The Corn Maidens”—who, of course, are the deities of the native people. We will acknowledge the past and the traditions of community centered around planting the corn, but we will make it accessible as a piece of art and not just a history lesson.
CPC: What are the varying roles of ‘preparation’ and ‘spontaneity’ in a performance piece, in your opinion?
Suzanne: I have a background in New York theatre and like things to run according to a general plan or outline. However, if something goes wrong, I go back to my actor’s training and just handle it ‘in character’. Meaning, I try and work in whatever little surprise has come along and have everyone believe that I either planned it that way or used it to my best advantage.
CPC: Other than such performances, do you collaborate with other media in other ways?
Suzanne: Stephanie Amos and I are also collaborating on a group of paintings where the poetry is placed directly onto the canvas. It is artwork that is inspired and enhanced by the words. I set aside a group of ten poems for this purpose.
CPC: So “why” work with other people and other media?
Suzanne: Simply put—endless fascination and synergy. Caole, Stephanie and I bounce ideas around so fast that we can never remember who thought of it first, with the project or work evolving as we talk about it. Then we often disseminate tasks, everyone gets to their work, and we meet again at a future time to discuss progress and problems.
CPC: And what did Picasso say again?
Suzanne: Art is a lie that makes us realize truth.
(Poems by Suzanne Bronson, and other activities of the Aspen Poets Society may be found at www.aspenpoetsociety.com)