Elise Paschen and Keli Mashburn
Archival inkjet triptych
I wrote the poem, “Distant,” after waking up from a dream last spring, the day before Chicago went into lockdown. In the dream I experienced such exaltation when I walked outside and, without fear, interacted with strangers on the street. While revising the poem, I suddenly realized that I could turn it into a mirror poem – a poem whose first and last lines, second and penultimate lines, mirror each other. The form seemed like an ideal vessel to contain this shadow life we now live.
This past summer the photographer and filmmaker Keli Mashburn and I began exchanging emails with each other. Keli shared with me her striking work whose poetic lyricism continues to resonate. When Marla Redcorn-Miller invited artwork for the “Creativity 2020: Art from the Community,” I immediately thought of Keli and asked whether she’d like to collaborate on an art installation. After sending her the poem, “Distant,” Keli created this stunning triptych.
I wish I could be there in person to see all the artwork of this exhibition. Thank you, Marla Redcorn-Miller and the Osage Nation Museum, for gathering together Osage artists and for celebrating what we can create during the pandemic.
Elise and I began a correspondence this summer. As a result, we decided to answer the Osage Museum’s call for art together, with a collaboration. The first poem she shared with me in our effort was “Distant.” As I read these words, images and sounds flooded my mind, like a movie. I remain awestruck by the power of her form, and the way her words dance fluidly in and around it. A decision was made to choose a single image to serve as a sort of pedestal for the poem, and this triptych is the result. I hope our piece encourages reflection, and inspires unity as we move forward into an uncertain future together.
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