I Challenge You to a Kelly Haiku

Even as a museum educator and art historian, I struggle sometimes with understanding abstract works of art. A lack of subject matter, figures, and rational forms can be intimidating and at times even overwhelming. So, recently I challenged myself during my noon Spotlight Talk to discuss some of the most abstract works on view at the Phillips right now in Ellsworth Kelly: Panel Paintings 2004–2009.  I was inspired by a quote of Kelly’s: “Time is important in art, and sometimes art takes time to reveal itself.” I figured if I took time to engage with works I hardly understood, perhaps they would reveal themselves to me.

I posed this challenge to my tour group and they obliged by looking closely, sharing their observations, and finally drafting a haiku based on their favorite painting in the exhibition. Haiku are a traditional Japanese 17 syllable poem. Our haiku used the following format and Post-It notes to create simple yet powerful explanations of Kelly’s works.

Ellsworth Kelly,Yellow Relief over Red, 2004. Private collection. Photo: Jerry L. Thompson, courtesy the artist. © Ellsworth Kelly

Title: One word describing the mood
Line 1: 5 syllables describing the color
Line 2: 7 syllables describing the shape
Line 3: 5 syllables describing the lines

Here are some of our haiku’s.

Tangy
Electric yellow
Those rectangles overlap
Tight and neat, so crisp
By: Margaret Collerd

 

Difference
It’s orange or red
Is it rectangle or square?
connected as one
By: Amy Truong

 

Ellsworth Kelly, Purple Curve in Relief, 2009 Private collection. Photo: Jerry L. Thompson, courtesy the artist. © Ellsworth Kelly

Vortex
Red black blue green train
Squared rectangles even
Horizons kiltered
By: Anonymous

 

Indigo
Strong purple and white
Oblong with a subtle curve
That should be a line
By: Marvin

 

Propulsion
Movement to the right
Rectangle on rectangle
Angles on angles
By: Karen

 

Interested in writing your own Kelly inspired haiku? Join us Thursday, Sept. 5 at Kelly’s Colors Phillips after 5 and create your own Post-It poetry to share or tweet your haiku as a tweetku and tag it #tweetku and #kellyscolors!

Margaret Collerd, Public Programs and In-Gallery Interpretation Coordinator

Rhythm and Rhyme: A Poetry Tour, Part 2

Left: The Post-it poem in progress. Right: Richard Diebenkorn, Interior with View of Ocean (detail), 1957. Photos: Rachel Goldberg

Left: The Post-it poem in progress Right: Richard Diebenkorn, Interior with View of Ocean (detail), 1957. Photos: Rachel Goldberg

After we explored Luncheon of the Boating Party through Shel Silverstein’s We’re Out of Paint, So . . . , poetry tour participants looked closely at Richard Diebenkorn’s  Interior with View of the Ocean. Together, we create a group Post-it poem to capture the essence of the painting.

To start off, each person wrote down one word on a Post-it note. Together we grouped and organized the verbs, nouns, and adjectives and then regrouped them according to their mood. We started with a phrase that conveyed a negative mood and then moved to the more positive words.

Then we added lines based on questions I posed to the group. What does this painting taste like? What does this painting sound like? We discovered it tasted like ‘sweet citrusy sea salt’ and sounded like the percussion triangle (ding, ding, ding, ding!). Our final product posed a perfect end to our poetry tour:

An Ocean View

Lifeless scorching geometric cube.
Refreshing citrusy summer sea salt view with
Vivid triangles: DING DING DING DING!
Peaceful, breezy
Simplicity.

Margaret Collerd, Public Programs and In-gallery Interpretation Coordinator

Rhythm and Rhyme: A Poetry Tour, Part 1

As part of last week’s Jazz ‘n Families Fun Days festivities, I led a tour of the permanent collection using poetry as a theme. Our first stop: Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party. After looking and discussing the work for a few minutes, I shared the following Shel Silverstein poem with the group, asking them to repeat each line out loud as I read. This ‘call and response’ method allowed everyone to feel the rhythm and rhyme of the poem:

August Renoir, Luncheon of the Boating Party, 1880-1881.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Luncheon of the Boating Party, between 1880 and 1881. Oil on canvas, 51 1/4 x 69 1/8 in. Acquired 1923. The Phillips Collection, Washington D.C.

We’re Out of Paint, So . . .

Let’s paint a picture with our food.
For red we’ll squeeze these cherries.
For purple let’s splash grape juice on.
For blue we’ll use blueberries.
For black just use some licorice.
For brown pour on some gravy.
For yellow you can dip your brush
In the egg yolk you just gave me.
We’ll sign our names in applesauce
And title it “Our Luncheon,”
And hang it up for everyone
To stop . . . and see . . . and munch on.

How do you think this poem relates to Luncheon of the Boating Party? Choose a color that strikes you in the painting. Imagine you are out of paint. What food would you use to paint your chosen color and why? Share your choice in the comments!

Margaret Collerd, Public Programs and In-gallery Interpretation Coordinator