Our Little Conspiracy: Collaboration with Poet Anna Badua
WIMBLEY: Anna’s manuscript, Life Forms is anchored by the Joseph Campell quote, “The outer space is within as much as the laws of space are within us; outer and inner space are the same.” Life Forms investigates the nuances of these internal and external spaces, display a complexity of emotional worlds, physical relationships, internal perspectives, and the process of contextualization of experiences within the origin and nature of life. Additionally, bearing witness, history, memory, family, and illness are also laced throughout the manuscript, creating shadows and fragments of the past that are displayed by strong emotional and visual ques within the work.
As a visual artist, I looked for strong visual ques of themes within the work that could serve as a foundation for the creation of the artworks. I have identified the poems Evolution, Life Forms, Scorched, Institutions, and Sun & Moon as having strong connections to images of space, family, fire (both as a purging and cleansing, destruction, and rebirth), and portraiture. Creating a visual framework of the oval to relate to historic portraiture, the cell, inner world, and biology, I combined images of space, nebulas, stars, the big bang, fire, and smoke with selected polaroid or snapshots of Anna’s family; in particular her mother. A Polaroid, with a fingerprint and distorted image serves as a foundational image within the works. This Polaroid serves as a metaphor for the fragmentation/distortion present in both memory and mental illness. Snap shots of Anna’s mother are shown in conjunction with images of space, smoke and fire, as well as pixilation within the images to highlight the metaphor of abstraction, fragmentation, distortion, memory, as well as creation, rebirth and formation. The layering of these images creates visual snapshots and narratives that relate to the themes within Anna’s work-showcasing both the personal and universal.
BADUA: Upon seeing the talented Jessica Wimbley’s work online, I felt we were a perfect match. Although, that did not fully prepare me for the beautiful pieces of work she created for this project; she greatly impressed me. Wimbley evoked many powerful emotions being happy to mourning, since many of photos she used to create her work were photos from my childhood. One photo Wimbley chose in particular, captivated me--I loved how she used a childhood Polaroid marred by a small thumb and blended it into the work. My older brother took that photo when we were kids, we thought we were gonna get in trouble for wasting film, so we hid it from our parents. Years later when I pulled it out, we cracked up about our little conspiracy. I’ve only kept that horrible photo for that memory. Wimbley redefined that photo for me, as a texture in these vignettes of my life, but I felt it was so apropos because my brother has been such an influential person in my life. All the elements she chose captured the themes in my poetry perfectly such as fire or death/ rebirth, family, mental illness, the oval shape which frames the works reminds me of a womb or the world, and space—like Joseph Campbell, I see outer space and inner space as being the same. I truly felt like my poetry had found its visual form.
Wimbley’s striking pieces and her extraordinary artist’s statement, which I felt was a perfect analysis of my chapbook and much better stated than I could’ve ever articulated, has truly been a great honor.