The Spalding House’s “A Thousand Words and Counting”

Image taken by Jade Sunouchi

On September 15th, The M.I.A. Art & Literary Series was asked by educational curator Aaron Padilla (an amazing artist himself) to collaborate with the Spalding House (former TCM, now merged with the Honolulu Museum of Art) for their opening of the “A Thousand Words and Counting” exhibit.

So says the museum:

Spalding House’s new education-driven exhibition concept looks at the museum’s collection and art in general from different perspectives and illustrate how art can be used as an unexpected tool in learning about disciplines such as literature, math, music, social studies, and physical education. The exhibitions are curated with schools and teachers in mind, but are also designed to engage and captivate “regular museum goers.” These shows really do have something for everyone.

Indeed, there is something for everyone, as our Mixing Innovative Arts writers imagined that night as true visual and literary collaboration. M.I.A.ers Donovan Kūhiō Colleps, Lyz Soto, Serena Simmons, Jaimie Gusman, Evan Nage, No’u Revilla, Scott Abels, and M. Thomas Gammarino gave performances inspired by or responding to some of the work featured at the exhibit.

First, a dramatic griot was performed by amazing ladies Lyz Soto, Serena Simmons, and No’ukahau’oli Revilla. Scott Abels facilitated Social Security # inspired poetry, where audience members coded their own poems & read them aloud while Jaimie Gusman and Evan Nagle collaboratively wrote poems on the spot for CA$H donations, exploiting the relationship between capital and art. Donovan Kūhiō Colleps created & manned a life-sized William Blake template, splayed on the museum floor, inviting museum guests to get on their knees to fill in the white spaces with responses to Blake’s Book of Job. We ended the night with responses to the artwork:

Serena Simmons’s started us off with her powerful piece, “Privilege”, inspired by William Blake’s “Book of Job”; M. Thomas Gammarino read a startling and profound excerpt from his new book, Jellyfish Dreams; Jaimie Gusman read her eerie poem “I had confused the appearance of trees & people with reality itself” responding to Duane Michals’ “A Failed Attempt to Photograph Reality”; Donovan Colleps performed his lyrical “A Man From The Land Of Laupahoehoe Interviews Himself” inspired by William Blake’s “Book Of Job”; Evan Nagle read a poem about an alternative view of creation, titled “The Psalm of Monsieur Hunky” based on “Psalm”; Lyz Soto woke us up with her piece, “Because my anatomy Cannot Get Pregnant When it Is Actually Raped”, inspired by Deborah Valoma’s “Femininity”; Scott Abels gave us the giggles with his short poem, “Cotton Kills”, a response to “Turn up the Night” by Ben Venom; and No’ukahau’oli Revilla’s finished poem “Live Taping”, a response to Deborah Valoma’s “Femininity”, was composed during the event by taking measurements of guests’ body parts throughout the night and arranged into a hilarious translation of Freud’s somewhat disturbing words.

The exhibit is still up now through November 22, 2012, so check it out! Unfortunately, M.I.A. won’t be repeating the performance, but we’re excited to collaborate with the Academy again in the future!

Read an exciting blog post by Lyz Soto about Ekphrastic poetry & the Spalding House event, here


Author: MIA Honolulu

We are a Honolulu-based literary series featuring local, national, and international writers and artists every third Thursday in Chinatown.

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