THE YELLOW WALLPAPER PROJECT
Designed For: The Kentucky Women Writers Conference, Lexington, KY
Dates: March 2015 (LexArts Showcase); reprised and expanded in September 2015 (for 2015 conference)
This special installation debuted as the KWWC’s contribution to the March 2015 LexArts showcase and was reprised, in larger scale and a slightly revised format, for the September 2015 conference. Designed to draw attention to the silencing of women’s voices (and especially of women who write), the project takes its name from Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s iconic protofeminist short story, “The Yellow Wall-Paper,” in which an unnamed narrator whose husband has locked her in a room as a “cure” for her supposed female nervousness seeks imaginative escape that culminates in her tearing down the ugly yellow wallpaper that decorates the chamber. A wall or large, free-standing vertical surface was completely covered with yellow sticky notes bearing language that has been used, either historically or in the present day, to denigrate and silence women and their words. At the September 2015 installation, we drew some of the language on the yellow paper from a social media campaign that we had conducted in the week leading up to the event. Passers-by were asked to tear down the yellow notes and to replace them with bright pink and fuchsia sticky notes bearing words of affirmation and resistance in support of women’s voices. The installation was left up for the duration of the conference, over the course of which participants were able to witness the overall appearance of the wall slowly changing, so that the yellow was eventually overtaken by a sea of colorful notes bearing hope for the future of women in letters.
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WHAT IS THE LANDSCAPE OF APIA LITERATURE?
Type: Small-scale installation
Designed For: The Asian American Literary Collective (Lantern Review, Kartika Review, TAYO, Hyphen, AALR, and affiliates)
Date: February 2013 (AWP Conference Bookfair)
This display was designed as a conversation starter for the Asian American Literary Collective’s 2013 AWP bookfair table. Passers-by were invited to add colored dots representing themselves to a map of the US in order to create a “real-time” document of conference goers who were engaging with Asian and Pacific Islander American (APIA) literature and the regions that they identified as their homes. Different colors of dots were used in order to enable participants to identify themselves with one of three descriptions: green dots signified writers, readers, and publishers of APIA literature; red dots signified readers of APIA literature; and blue dots signified those who were not very familiar with APIA literature but wanted to learn more. (More information about this project and its impact can be found in this reflection piece that I wrote for the Lantern Review blog after the conference.)
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POEMS FOR ILLUMINATION
Type: Literary intervention
Designed For: First United Methodist Church, Moorestown, NJ
Date: December 2011 (Advent)
As part of FUMC Moorestown’s 2011 Advent celebration, the church allowed me to create and distribute four special bulletin inserts that featured poems and reflections relating to the themes of each consecutive week of Advent (hope, peace, joy, and love, respectively). I chose four secular poems (“God’s Grandeur” by Gerard Manley Hopkins for hope, “When I Consider How My Light is Spent” by John Milton for peace, “The Soul on its Leash, The Body on its Leash” by Michael Chitwood for joy, and “Love Song” by Denise Levertov for love) and for each of them, I wrote a short meditation that interpreted the poem and related it to a passage of scripture, in the hopes that the themes of the poem could help to bring alive and “illuminate” the scripture (just as the scriptural text itself illuminated new meanings in each poem). The finished inserts were slipped into bulletins for each of the church’s four services and presented without comment throughout the season for congregation members to discover and engage with each week.
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POETRY IN THE STACKS AND MAPPING MOORESTOWN
Designed For: Moorestown Public Library, Moorestown, NJ
Date: April 2011 (National Library Week and National Poetry Month)
I designed this project for the Moorestown Public Library in order to mark both National Poetry Month and National Library Week. During the month of April, thirty mini-broadsides, each inscribed with a poem and a list of related books of interest from the library’s holdings, were hidden, “guerrilla style,” in various locations in and among the shelves for patrons to stumble upon as they browsed. A sign near the circulation desk invited visitors to participate in a challenge to find all thirty poems before the end of the month. This installation culminated with an evening of celebration that the library had planned for National Library Week, for which I worked with the staff to create a second, live installation called “Mapping Moorestown.” During the evening of the celebration, I set up a table at which I helped community members to write simple haiku about places in town that held personal meaning for them. We then encouraged the participating community members to find the locations about which they had written on a wall-sized map of the town and affix their haiku there, thus creating a map-in-poems of the narratives that comprised their collective experience of Moorestown.