Poetry and art come together in museum event

September 13, 2008

COLUMBIA, SC – September 12, 2008 – The natural and the supernatural, the personal and the mythic all meet in “Fire and Transformation,” a multi-themed University of South Carolina event featuring an art exhibit, poetry reading and writing Sept. 26 – 27 and Oct. 4 at the Columbia Museum of Art.

The university’s Arts Institute, in collaboration with the museum, is hosting the event, which is based on Dale Chihuly’s blown-glass exhibit, “Seaforms,” and haunting tales of Japanese folklore.          

Charlene Spearen, poet-in-residence for the Columbia Museum of Art and an adjunct professor of art at the university, along with MFA candidate in poetry Julia Koets, university art professor Dawn Hunter and emerging student artist Natalie Askew will create dramatic works of art that incorporate illustration and the written word.

Award-winning scene designer Kimi Maeda will unveil the works, which will be on display at the museum 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. Sept. 26. A guided tour of the works will precede a round-table discussion that explores ways in which artists incorporate symbolism into their work. The evening will conclude with a reading of the poetry created for the event.

“It’s a convergence of themes,” said Spearen, “using two different art forms to create one.”

On Sept. 27, the Arts Institute will host a morning workshop from 9:30 – 11:30 a.m. for children and an afternoon workshop for adults from 1:30 – 3 p.m., both to be held at the museum. The children’s workshop, for ages 8 – 15, will focus on creative writing, water color and collage. The adult workshop is a two-part event that will include lectures on symbolism as well as exercises in creative writing and visual art. It will conclude at the museum at 10:30 a.m. Oct. 4 and will focus on poetic word play and draw upon the collages participants made in the first part of the workshop.

Advance registration is required for both workshops, and all events are free and open to the public.

“Participants will explore symbolism in an intuitive manner,” said Hunter, “working quickly, without too much premeditation. We will then, as a group, reflect on each other’s choices and discuss the inherent meaning. Prior to the discussion, there will be a short lecture on symbolism and the historical meaning of certain images.”

The University of South Carolina established its Arts Institute to encourage collaboration among the arts disciplines and to make the university’s cultural arts more visible to students and the community. It is directed by English professor and poet Kwame Dawes.

For more information on these events or the Arts Institute, contact Charlene Spearen or Rachel Luria at 803-777-5492 or via e-mail at [email protected] or [email protected], or visit the Web site: www.artsubstitute.sc.edu/.


Poet and Artist Bios

Charlene Monahan Spearen earned her MFA degree in creative writing from the University of South Carolina, and is working toward a doctoral degree in composition and rhetoric at the university. She is the program coordinator for the university’s Arts Institute and the assistant director of the South Carolina Poetry Initiative. She also teaches composition and poetry classes at the university.

Dawn Hunter earned her MFA in art from the University of California and has held residencies at the Cooper Union in New York and the Royal Academy of Art in London. Her work has won many awards and grants, including a Starr Foundation Fellowship and the Amitage Prize from Sotheby’s of London. She is an assistant professor and the foundations coordinator in the department of art at the University of South Carolina.

Kimi Maeda is a theatre artist currently working as a puppeteer and designer for the Columbia Marionette Theatre in South Carolina. She has designed the sets and costumes for Pig Iron Theatre, Visible Theatre, Pilgrim Theatre, Goshen College, Baltimore Theatre Project and Theatre South Carolina. She earned her MFA in scenic design from the University of South Carolina and earned her master’s degree in scenography from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London and her bachelor’s degree in studio art from Williams College.

Natalie Askew is a third-year student majoring in graphic design at the University of South Carolina. Her passion for art was piqued at a young age, due largely to her grandmother, a painter, who encouraged and mentored her artistic abilities. A dean’s list student, she is also a S.C. LIFE Scholar, a Dean’s Scholar and a University Scholar.

Julia Koets earned her bachelor’s degree in English with an emphasis in creative writing from Presbyterian College. A third-year MFA candidate, Koets is a graduate assistant at the University of South Carolina, teaching literature and composition. She also works at the South Carolina Poetry Initiative and is the poetry editor at the University’s literary journal, Yemassee.