Fall 2018, Volume 25

From the Art Editor


A poetry writing exercise I received from Stephen Dunn can teach us a bit about painting, too. I’ll paraphrase. “Appropriate an unbelievable or extreme phrase, one sentence at most, and build a poem around it that makes that phrase the blandest or most mundane part of the poem. For example, normalize ‘Grandmother has extraterrestrial's love child!’ in a poem.”

Once you’ve built a few such poems, you'll simply see more of what has always been in front of your nose: a parade of bizarre things hidden in plain sight. How delightful and weird to start to see these, as well as to understand how their invisibility operates on the people standing next to you.

When a Kristin Malin moonlit landscape first grabbed me with its hatcheted, asymmetric moon, I was delighted to discover it made perfect sense given the hodgepodge human and natural world below, and of everything in between. After exploring the image for some time and enjoying the quirky relatedness of its parts, I tested my belief in this image by imagining a change: all the same but with the moon as a disk— “You’re lying to yourself!” shouted my conscience. Which means that the painting is offering a most interesting thing, new truth about the moon, circa 2018. Which of course means new truth about who we are, now.

Among painters whose work is a metaphor for the experience of looking at something, like a landscape, (most of the painters in human history), Kristin is doing difficult and intimate things deftly. I like it when a friend gives me their unvarnished news. I like it that Kristin takes me to her easel, on a particular night, and shares the experience of being Kristin, observing intensely and with a glorious lack of concern for logic or about getting things “right.”

I’m further reassured that when a baby is born of human and extraterrestrial parents, we’ll know what it’s supposed to look like and take it in our stride.

                                                                                     — Jack Miller