Poems in the Suit of Diamonds LB Thompson

Recent Events, Exhibitions, & Publications

Longhand Forest Fibonacci Monstrosity

at Long Island MacArthur Airport
summer 2016
Longhand Forest by Ellen Wiener & Fibonacci Monstrosity by LB Thompson
Longhand Forest by Ellen Wiener & Fibonacci Monstrosity

Ellen Wiener’s panoramic drawing Longhand Forest was designed to be inhabited by the creatures of a vast classical bestiary described in LB Thompson’s corresponding poem sequence Fibonacci Monstrosity. The line counts in the poem sequence are based on the mathematical sequence in which each number is the sum of the previous two numbers.

The printed catalog Fibonacci Forest, containing details from Longhand Forest paired with each poem in Fibonacci Monstrosity is available for purchase through our websites.

This work has also been exhibited at ArtSites Gallery in Riverhead, NY, and at Vanderbilt University.

To engage with the artist, please visit ellenwiener.com

You can also follow us on Twitter @fibonacciforest

or find LB Thompson on 

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Read about more collaborative works in interview with Ellen Wiener

at JacksonsArt.com (UK)
Between Red & Green (detail) 2015, edition 20, casein, gouache, ink, oil gesso. 14 x 7 inches closed 14 x 112 inches open
Between Red & Green (detail)
2015, edition 20, casein, gouache, ink, oil gesso. 14 x 7 inches closed 14 x 112 inches open

 

‘Between Red & Green’ is your latest collaborative project. It is a beautiful book! Can you tell us about how your collaboration process works?

Ellen Wiener: Any response, any give and take, must be specific to the spirit of the project of course. The key words you’ve used in your questions, Julie, like ‘practice’ & ‘process’ are twins- joined, even yoked together, because process has sort of BECOME our post post modern topic; practice involves not just diligence and devotion, materials and methods, but considers the species of exchange needed… it must be respectful, vulnerability is essential, but the real coin is trust.

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Poems in the Suit of Diamonds. Boxed Deck of Cards, Edition 250. 2014
Read the full interview with Ellen Wiener

 

Still Against War VI anthology available

LB Thompson’s poem from “Invasives Invective” from  Reflected Deck (suit of clubs) included in this anthology for peace, in solidarity with poet and activist Marie Ponsot.   Buy from Amazon

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New anthology including poem by LB Thompson. Cover by Tom Cocotos

Frieda Dean on our collaborative project at

 CIRCA 2016 conference, Augusta University

merge by Frieda Dean & LB Thompson, part of "Be Still Here" sequence of photopoems
merge by Frieda Dean & LB Thompson, part of “Be Still Here” sequence of photopoems
 Celebration in Research & Creative Activities, A Faculty Development Symposium at Augusta University

This conference is a great opportunity for sharing ideas across the arts and sciences. My collaborator Frieda Dean presented a lecture entitled Long Island Drift, which offers a first look at at our sequence of environmental photo-poems Be Here Still.  During her residency at the William Steeple Davis House in Orient, Long Island, we began listening to the beach together and researching the geological history of Long Island. We thought about time, and the way its symphonic movements brought changes to the beach on Young’s Road where we created the rock poems. Dean’s lecture will include a reading from the poetry that is bound up with the photographs. The project will be a portfolio of still photographs and an writings about the immersive yet evanescent experience of making the work. Here is a video clip from one moment together on the beach.

More news and images about the rock poems coming soon. In the meantime, take a look at a previous project I worked on with Frieda Dean.

Frieda Dean’s ORIENT, NY Postcard Project 

I have also had the opportunity to collaborate with Frieda Dean and Paola Ferrario as part of Frieda’s ORIENT, NY postcard project. Ferrario International Printing explains that also during her William Steeple Davis Trust artist’s residency in idyllic Orient, Long Island. The Augusta, Georgia-based artist Frieda Dean, best known for her ceramics and prints, took numerous photographs of the town and its magnificent surrounding landscape. Selecting ten examples, she commissioned ten local writers to compose captions for her pictures, transforming this into a community-based project. The postcards were printed in an edition of 80 sets.  11 sets left.

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Visit Ferrario International Printing to order Orient, NY by Frieda Dean. Edition of 80 sets. $40.00 free shipping within the U.S.A.


 

MUSIC/WORDS

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Thank you, Inna Faliks, for inviting me to join you for a Music/Words evening in October. Faliks performed the Shchedrin Basso Ostinato, Mozart Fantasie in d minor, and Brahms Sonata #3 in f minor. I read poems chosen to complement the music between pieces or movements.

Music/Words is an interdisciplinary live performance series exploring connections between poetry and music by presenting collaborations between exciting solo musicians and acclaimed contemporary poets in the form of a live recital/reading.

Inna Faliks created the series in order to foster a chance for poets and musicians to work together and inspire each other, as well as to allow different audiences to come together for these musical-literary events. New published and unpublished works are read alongside performances of music old and new and connected by content, intuition, and inspiration. According to Faliks, “I pair performers together based on their personalities and styles, and encourage them to pair the poems with music in ways that are strongly and intuitively connected.”

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Recent publications and events

Pine Hills Review interview, poem & detail from “Longhand Forest” by Ellen Wiener

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Pine Hills Review recently published “Enter Legend,” an excerpt from Fibonacci Monstrosity by LB Thompson, paired with a detail from “Longhand Forest” by Ellen Wiener. The collaborative project sounded so interesting we though it would be a good idea to pass along some questions about it. Here are their answers.

Can you explain the appeal of the Fibonacci? I imagine, that in both poetry and in drawing, there is an appeal in knowing that nature has its own golden spiral, that it’s not something entirely human-made?

The appeal is precisely what you have imagined. People are comforted by order, and mathematics offers proof–I think it is significant that mathematicians use the word “proof”–of what seems to be an underlying natural matrix. The Fibonacci sequence is expressed in the arrangement of sunflower seeds on the bloom’s black face, and in the curve of a nautilus shell. We used the nautilus spiral to chart the poems across the forest by inserting camouflaged capped tubes containing the poems when this work was first exhibited at Art Sites Gallery in May of 2014. When we plotted the curves onto the forest, we thought “it works!”

There was almost a sense that it had been predetermined. This expression of natural order has lead people to try all kinds of Fibonacci experiments, including a method of forecasting the stock market.

I will add that while the sequence was named for Italian mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci (c.1170–c. 1250), Fibonacci did not discover the sequence; rather, he introduced the system to the West. Indian mathematicians used the sequence as early as the 6th century, and it was a principle in Sanskrit prosody. Perhaps its roots in poetry tempted Inger Christianson (Danish poet, 1935-2009 translated by Susanna Nied) to write Alphabet. The New Directions edition opened my eyes to the poetic potential of the sequence, and I am indebted to her for that introduction.

Christensen’s sequence grows longer and longer as the alphabet progresses, but I found that after reaching the longest (89-line) poem, I wanted to reverse the sequence and go back toward the one-line utterance.

Is there a temptation cheat the Fibonacci, either word- or line-wise?

Working with any received form, there is a temptation, or a need to deviate from the grid the form provides. Considering, for example, Elizabeth Bishop’s villanelle One Art, the lack of rigidity in her phrases and the subtle variations in the refrains prevent the form from entrapping the poet. Instead, the form enables the looping, emotionally desperate motions of her mind to latch onto a structure. Again, there is comfort in this orderliness.

I wrote the 19 poems in the sequence at a time when I was in emotional chaos and needed to reckon with it and understand it. The Fibonacci sequence became a skeleton on which I could drape this mess and try to make something of it.

When Ellen speaks about the role of the Fibonacci sequence in Longhand Forest, she speaks of feeling a necessity to make a thicket, and then the necessity of getting out of it. The forest wall can be “read” from left to right. The detail here in Pine Hills Review is from a moment toward the right end where there is a feeling of finding a clearing in the thicket, and the perspective in that detail is more distant. The poem “Enter Legend” comes from the opposite end of the sequence, but because at both the beginning and end the lyrics are short, there is a sense of resolution that is possible in the smaller numbers. The monstrosity begins with the voice of Virgil and ends with Dante calling Virgil’s name, crying out his goodbye in the Purgatorio. That point of view from the distant edges of Western poetry is one kind of perspective offered here, as is its opposite – the dense thicket of the forest drawing and the unresolved conflict in the longest poem Nocturne: Locked Bucks.

Perhaps the most famous use of the fibonacci sequence is in Dan Brown’s blockbuster mystery The Da Vinci Code. Are there any mysteries embedded in your Fibonacci Monstrosity?

Oh yes. There are a great many mysteries in both the poem sequence and in Longhand Forest. Some of the buried treasure is source material. Echoes from Dürer and Altdorfer as well as the brothers Grimm resound in Longhand Forest just as characters from literary history (Kafka, Dickinson, Yeats and more) speak their lines in the dramatic poem sequence. Enter Legend introduces the perspective of a character called Legend, whom I met reading Kafka’s story The Burrow. [“They {moles} are creatures of the inner earth; not even Legend can describe them.”]

Perhaps more literally, there are many objects in the forest, so that it seems one finds a previously unseen shovel or basket for example in the dense woods, and a lectern or conservatory in the wider view at the right edge.

Oh yeah: why do you both call it a “monstrosity”?

Take a look at a photograph of a star-nosed mole. It has to be one of the strangest, most alien looking creatures on earth. The New York Times ran an article in the Science section about this creature with the title: A Masterpiece of Nature? Yuck!

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Also, the creatures in Fibonacci Monstrosity live in extremity. The star-nosed mole has the keenest sense of touch of any animal, though he is blind. The swan is alone, no longer paired, and so is in a state of extremity in swan terms. The Canadian red-sided garter snakes are the reptiles who live the farthest north, and have adapted grotesque behaviors to survive in that habitat. They are all monsters because they have adapted to survive in extremity, an underlying metaphor in the sequence.

Does exhibiting a 17-foot long drawing present any special challenges?

The original mixed media on paper work is 17 feet long because the longest wall in Ellen Wiener’s studio 17 feet. For the first exhibition ofLonghand Forest, the drawing was scanned, printed at its original scale, and mounted on wood panels, and the poems were inserted in camouflaged capped tubes. [see images below] For the current exhibition Drawing Closer, at Vanderbilt, Ellen enlarged the scan of the original to 24 feet specifically for the wall in the Sarratt Gallery and Student Center, and printed it as a banner. The poems appear as a grid of posters on a perpendicular wall with details from the forest, just as they appear in the catalog Fibonacci Forest, which is available for purchase on our websites.

The Brooklyn Rail review of your project detects a sense of play between the two collaborators, a “wink and a nod” between artist and poet. I was wondering if you could talk about that?

We have now completed three large-scale collaborations, and with each project we often find that we happen to be reading the same book, or researching similar fascinations; then we explore those threads together and weave them into the work. We also make discoveries during our conversations or editorial dialogs, or when we are in each other’s studios. We are each exploring what we most want to explore personally, yet continue to find overlapping themes, emotional notes, and sources. A “me too!” feeling occurs organically and points the way, rather than moving through a pre-charted, shared journey.

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Ellen Wiener (right) is a painter and printmaker whose latest work concentrates on literary sources and pictorial language. Recent exhibitions include work at PS1-MOMA, The National Academy, Lori Bookstein and Central Booking Galleries. She has held faculty appointments at Sarah Lawrence Writers Institute, Princeton University, SUNY Stony Brook.

LB Thompson studied poetry at Sarah Lawrence College and received her MFA in Creative Writing from NYU. She has received awards for emerging writers from the Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation, and the Rona Jaffe Foundation. Her chapbook, Tendered Notes: Poems of Love and Money, won the Center For Book Arts prize. Her poems and essays have been published in The New Yorker, Prairie Schooner, and Stonecutter, as well as other literary magazines and websites. She teaches writing at The New School and at Suffolk County Community College.

Drawing Closer: Ink and Wood

Denise Stewart-Sanabria, Ellen Wiener, and LB Thompson

Sarratt Gallery, Vanderbilt University, Sept. 1- Oct 2 2015

Vanderbilt University’s Sarratt Gallery will host a dynamic drawing and written word collaborative installation by New York artist Ellen Wiener, poet LB Thompson, and Knoxville, Tennessee artist Denise Stewart-Sanabria. Wiener’s pen and ink 7.5’ x 24’ panoramic drawing Longhand Forest, and the corresponding dramatic poem sequence, Fibonacci Monstrosity, by Thompson, will be housed with the full-scale figurative plywood drawings by Stewart-Sanabria.

 

 

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Wiener’s Longhand Forest is a story wall drawing of dense and detailed woodland, designed to be inhabited by the creatures of a vast classical bestiary described in Thompson’s poem. The line counts in Fibonacci Monstrosity are based on the mathematical sequence in which each number is the sum of the previous two numbers. The Brooklyn Rail described their installation saying, “Chaos and mystery flow through both of these worlds where rivers of science, legend, archeology, myth, and divine comedy converge.” The text and forest interplay is intended to launch the viewer off the densely inked edge into imagined space. Contemplating this space along with the viewers will be Stewart-Sanabria’s full-scale, virtual reality plywood people.

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ShadowFiguresSarrattStewart-Sanabria’s life sized charcoal drawings on plywood depict people in various conceptual situations. They are placed within an environment in both observational and interactive groupings. Many of them emerge or partially disappear into walls, as if the surrounding architecture is Quantum Theory multi-verse portals. The human presence is intended to show an attempted civilizing of the bestial, natural world of which humans are often reluctant to acknowledge they are a part of.

ManRegardsForestDenise Stewart-Sanabria was born in Massachusetts and received her BFA in Painting from the University of Massachusetts/Amherst. She has lived in Knoxville, TN since 1986.

Sanabria paints both hyper-realist “portraits” of everything from produce to subversive jelly donuts. The anthropomorphic narratives often are reflections on human behavior. She is also known for her life size charcoal portrait drawings on plywood, which are cut out, mounted on wood bases, and staged in installations.

See above for bios of Ellen Wiener and LB Thompson

 

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Fibonacci Forest catalogs available for purchase. $50 email LBThompson27@gmail.com

Read Joyce Beckenstein’s feature article on Longhand Forest and Fibonacci Monstrosity in The Brooklyn Rail.

 

Between Red and Green — Ellen Wiener & LB Thompson

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Ellen Wiener and I are pleased to announce the publication of a new limited edition accordion book, Between Red and Green, with two paintings and a mediating poem, bound in French blue silk. 20 signed and numbered books — to inquire, email me at LBThompson27@gmail.com.

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Publication and interview in Interview with Ellen Wiener & LB Thompson and a collaborative exhibition, Drawing Closer: Ink & Wood with Ellen Wiener at Vanderbilt’s Sarratt Gallery in the Student Center, September 1 – October 5th.

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Read about developments in the playing card poem project in progress Reflected Deck, a collaboration with Ellen Wiener, who has completed a residency at Women’s Studio Workshop. Hear what she has to say about the prints for the Suit of Clubs. Divining Direction: Ellen Wiener in the Studio

Signed, limited edition books Fibonacci  Forest  and Poems in the Suit of Diamonds available. $50 each plus shipping.  Email LBThompson27@gmail.com.