Sever

The Room Where It Happened; 2020 – A diorama that imagines a series of rooms in which plans are made to alter and direct public opinion for political and economic purposes. An immersive yet diminishing environment, the rooms contain charts, files, books, and notes, all which have a certain historical resonance. Ward Shelley and Douglas Paulson. photo credit: Carlton Bright

“If you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything.” -Gordon A. Eadie

We live in a time when the truth appears to have become a matter of opinion. Facts are malleable and public opinion is based on who one listens to. The irony of having so much information at our fingertips is that it has given rise to a subjective take on reality. For every belief system, there are troves of glossy, professional supports – web pages and online groups standing at the ready to back up whichever truth you feel is right for you. Of course, this culture of many truths is untenable. We witness the fallout in many ways, some of them violent. Human manipulation of the once-stable element of truth has torn apart the fabric of reality in ways we have only begun to witness.

Michael Bazzett spoke to in mid-December of 2020 from Minneapolis which he describes as quite “hibernatory” during the winter months. A writer and translator, Bazzett allows as how he has not been prodigiously productive throughout the pandemic. One work that Bazzett has translated, however, is the Popul Vuh, the mythology and history of the K’iche’  people, part of the Mayan culture. This work is told primarily in the present tense – a facet that stems from the oral tradition but that also brings an immediacy to this creation myth about hero twins who become the sun and the moon. Recently Bazzett published a book of poems titled The Temple. The title is based on a quote by W.S. Merwin, “If you find you no longer believe, enlarge the temple.” In the book, Bazzett considers what we believe now as well as considering the body as a temple. To hear more about this book, the Popul Vuh and more, listen to the complete interview.

Ward Shelley spoke with us on Christmas Eve 2020. Recently his work has been split in two directions and he typically works with a collaborator. Alongside his friend and collaborator Douglas Paulson, Shelley often works with words. This year, the pair decided they wanted to create a piece based on the election examining the manipulation of public opinion. Shelley’s background in advertising as well as elements of his upbringing make him acutely aware of this concept. Initially, his gallery was unsure they could float the show this year but ultimately they called him and offered a show for September, shortly before the election. He convened with his wife and Paulson in his studio where they constructed a forced perspective diorama of a place where the truth is manipulated to control actions. The piece was titled The Room Where it Happens. This was installed in the gallery in such a way that it could be seen through the window much like a Christmas window display. To hear more about this project and more, listen to the complete interview.

Few Words to Keep in your Pocket:

The truth was not created, it simply is.

Interviews are available on iTunes as podcasts, and for Android please click here. All weekly essay pieces in a shareable format are here. The full archive of interviews here.

Books to Read

What are you reading? Add your titles to our reading list here. Michael Bazzett’s books can be found here. Ward Shelley is reading The Beatles Anthology, though he says the sheer size of the book means he picks it up and puts it down in between reading other things.

Deadlines

Howard County Arts Council seeks teaching artists for their 2021 summer camp program. Qualified artists can submit their proposals to teach children ages 5-12. Camp classes explore both the performing and visual arts. Compensation rates vary depending on class size. To learn more and to apply, visit the website. Applications are due by January 25.

 

Brainard Carey is an author, artist and educator. He is the director of Praxis Center for Aesthetics. He has written six books for artists; Making it in the Art World, New Markets for Artists, The Art World Demystified, Fund Your Dreams Like a Creative Genius, Sell Online Like a Creative Genius, and Succeed with Social Media Like a Creative Genius.

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