This week marks the end of a terrific Baltimore reading/arts series called Amplified Cactus. Organized by an absolutely dreamy-cool group of Bmore writers, the salon-style event has brought artists, writers, and musicians together to respond to a slate of wild and wonderful prompts.
(Read this awesome review in Bmore Art.) I had the pleasure of taking part in the March event, where we made new work based on this question: Why am I attracted to stimulation that destabilizes me?
Think about that question for a minute. It’ll blow your mind.
Honestly, I found the process of thinking about/writing about/making about/admitting to stimulation extremely destabilizing on its own. Meta, right? The more and more I waffled back and forth between ideas of what to write and make — because I was determined to make a book, dammit — the more I struggled. The more I struggled, the more I realized I needed to make this less about emotion and more about quantifying the destabilization. But in a funny fake scientific way.
Hence: Three Studies. After the fact, I realized that the process of embroidering Tyvek was, in fact, a nice little call-out to the poki-ness of the cactus spines. I have now fully healed, and I like to think I stretched myself. Here’s the final book…
Each “study” within the book is composed of a poem about a moment of destabilization (which slides neatly into the wallet-style construction) and an accompanying chart. The first spread contains a poem about how I chew my thumb ragged when I read. So, the line chart follows the “violence toward thumb” in relation to a thriller story arc.
The second poem is about the gross feeling you get when you’ve spent too much time looking people up on Facebook. So, the accompanying chart — a relationship map — shows the pathways to follow to people of your past, both healthy and not.
The final poem is a little personal, so I’m keeping it to myself for the moment. I’ll just say that it involves a Venn diagram, a shape I never thought I’d include in a poem, much less embroider.
Thanks again to the Amplified Cactus community for giving so many artists such an invigorating challenge!