Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Sculpted Language

Last Saturday I treated myself with a trip to the Smith College Museum of Art, to see the show I Heard a Voice: The Art of Lesley Dill. (Actually, I treated myself with time, but the entrance was free thanks to a pass I checked out of the Lilly Library. What a great public resource.) I didn't go because it was the work of Lesley Dill (I wasn't familiar with her work). I went because Dill incorporates fragments of poetry into her sculptures, predominantly the work of Emily Dickinson.

I had pretty low expectations of the show. Somehow I expected it to be cheesy. Plus, while gorgeous in person, the sculptures do not come across nearly as well when photographed. They're like written-down words that only truly come alive when spoken. All my expectations were completely blown out of the water. I was amazed by the show, and hope to see it again before it closes on September 13.

I can't imagine that Dill's sculptures could possibly do a better job of embodying the ambiguous, troubled, transcendent lines of poetry with which she chose to work. The two main themes in the show were spirituality and language. The materials (thin sheets of tin, thread, luminous silk fabric), the compositions (figures, partial figures, mixed media, collages), and the scale (a few very large pieces and several very small pieces) all do a great job of illustrating either the spirituality captured in the words, or simply the spirituality of language itself.

You can preview the show here.


  1. Hi, Kat! Yes, I saw it, was equally enthralled, and want to go back. You are right about the pictures not capturing the power of the work. You need to walk into the space and have the figures and words floating around you. It was fabulous. Be well, Carolyn

  2. It's just like being in the Southwest. Pictures don't capture the feeling of being there.

    Glad you enjoyed it.

  3. sculpture and poetry, that's a great place to start..