Holly Wren Spauldingis an interdisciplinary artist, teacher, and author, most recently, of Familiars: Poems (Alice Greene & Co., 2020). Holly is the founder and director of Poetry Forge, where she works with emerging writers to develop new work and complete books.
We must give you fair warning: Upon reading this article, you are likely to find yourself checking directions to the tiny village in Michigan where Melanie Parke’s The Provincial resides. As in her other MADE columns, Holly Wren Spaulding has introduced us to another artistic gem, in so many senses of the word.
Illuminating tall ceilings, vast white walls, and shiny, painted wood floors that evoke the vintage of this place, natural light draws me through the doors of The Provincial. As my eyes adjust, a collection of paintings come into focus, by some of painter Melanie Parke’s favorite artists: this is her studio as well as a space for showing others’ work and fostering artist projects.
MADE: A series of conversations with artists about how they navigate impasses and discover breakthroughs in their work.
To reach Karen Dolmanisth’s studio, I must first navigate a series of stairs, metal doors, and maze-like corridors in an old mill building in Florence, Massachusetts. Then follows a tunnel of books, artwork, costumes, and other ephemera gathered and carefully placed over the twenty years she has worked in this space.
Since meeting her seven years ago, I’ve admired painter Amanda Acker’s ability to tell a story through a single image, as well as her sensitive use of color, which has the effect of teaching me how to see the vibrancy in my own surroundings.
Despite my inexperience, what I made is beautiful to me, in part because it accomplished something I’ve strived for in my poems for a while: radical simplicity, quiet, and room for the reader to think about a single image or idea at a time. I also enjoyed engaging with the visual elements of these spare essences of language, seeing them as art objects as much as I see them as poems.