I took a lovely class at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery last weekend. While indulging the nascent comic artist, the instructor, Sean Murphy, took us through a number of exercises that engaged multiple artworks. There were two that I created word sketches for in a effort to get at the depth and complexity of the work.

The first was a video piece, a critique of a social media life by Amalia Soto. We had to draw and write a before and afterward of this scene and my poem is the afterward:

She felt that it’d be better that

the bed stay empty than

try to exist at all.

The second is a self portrait of Chuck Close. This was from a close looking and sequencing exercise. The poem does double duty with expressing raw emotion and a bit of critique of Close and the art world. The poem is all raw material that has not gone through any editing process, but I think it’s fitting just the same:

If I could

take myself apart

then put myself

together again I

might leave out

the broken pieces.

And I wonder

if I did

would you mind?

Artist credits: Amalia Soto, Who’s Sorry Now, video with sound, 2017

Chuck Close, self portrait, due diffusion transfer prints, 1989