Snow. The first real snow of the year. Which in Chicago means miserable traffic, as if those who live here had never ever seen it fall before. Caution? A must. Crawling? Not so much. But crawl I did toward the wonderful Woman Made Gallery to participate in the themed reading “What the Land Means” to correspond with the current art exhibit “From the Earth; From the Land.”
Curated by Nina Corwin, the reading series at Woman Made is one of the most eclectic and interesting in a city full of readings. Connected to the art exhibits currently running, the readings are curated to include broad interpretations of the theme to give the audience a unique opportunity to reframe their interpretations of both the words and the art.
Today did not disappoint. Michelle Deatrick brought her love, activism, and respect for the land to life in her poems, based on her life on an 80-acre Michigan farm, parts of which have been restored to a natural prairie. Sharon Dornberg-Lee gave us the emotional landscapes of loved ones and family. Angela Narciso Torres took us to her home land of Manila to taste the sweet fruits and hear the rain. Tinged with wry humor and striking observations, Divya Rajan gave us poems of faith and domesticity, two landscapes familiar to most. And my selections – from newer work, A House of Many Windows, and The Pioneer Wife - attempted to illustrate the inextricable connection between the land and the body.
The art exhibit was full of things to think about, too. My favorite piece was a breastplate made to represent many items of the natural world. The artist is Chicago artist Margaret Bobo-Dancy. The breastplate itself was incredibly detailed, and I spent much of my gallery time going back to it. In the accompanying video, the artist wears the breastplate and digitally blends herself in the woods near her parents’ home. Below are two pictures of the breastplate and a shot of the artist’s card.