This might throw a few of you but I actually have a thing for art, poetic art even more so.
As I was walking around the University of Exeter’s campus the other week I stumbled upon a curious piece of artwork adorning a wall of one of the campus’s main halls. No matter how much I looked at it I just could not wrap my head around what it could possibly mean, but rather than making me lose interest it compelled me to investigate.
I figured that the best place to start is by tracking down the artist responsible. Through the student newspaper I found out that the artist was actually a PhD student currently studying at the University: Jaime Robles. Besides her current studies Robles previously completed an MFA in Creative Writing at San Francisco State University. She is co-founder, editor and publisher of Five Trees Press in San Francisco and is editor and publisher of Woodland Editions. Her work has been published in many magazines and of her 2010 collection Anime, Animus, Anima (Shearsman Books), Paul Hoover said; “Every good book scares us, and this is one of them.” Robles uses the animation process to examine how we look at the world that surrounds us and how ‘viewing’ feeds both love and alienation.
Incidentally the newspaper had noticed the piece some weeks ago and asked me if I wanted to try contacting her, getting her views, and putting them onto paper. Finding her email address proved to be no problem thanks to the effective system the University has, here is what she said to me.
“I first had the idea for this piece when I came to Exeter in fall 2010. I’m a Californian and we don’t experience the seasons in the same way: our countryside is very dry and brown and deciduous trees don’t often change color or lose their leaves in the fall. I was struck by the physical beauty of the southwest countryside—its green hillsides and the trees that seemed a blaze of colors, more like fire. Then I was also taken by the beauty of the wall that runs by the path from Reed Hall to the Wellbeing Center. It wasn’t too far a leap to combine the fiery colors of the trees’ dying leaves and the cool green hues of the wall. It seemed to me that each leaf falling was a stray comment on life, like a line of poetry in passing. When I started planning the installation I was writing a series of poems at the time and I took several of the lines from those poems, which had to do with the natural world, and printed them on leaves that I had picked up from the campus grounds and then flattened between the pages of books. So that’s the poetry, I guess: it’s a poetry of place, color and the passage of time. It’s really meant to celebrate the exquisite balance of those things in our lives: the irreplaceable beauty of our planet.”
Make what you will of it’, I rather think it’s quite profound.