Poetry Paths exists to facilitate connections through poetry and art, according to founder Kerry Sherin Wright. We had a chance to catch her vision for the program while recording the show at the Pennsylvania College of Art & Design. The college is one of Poetry Paths’ first “site partners” throughout the city to house permanent works of art that are built around original pieces of poetry. We were present for the official unveiling of their piece, a ceiling mural created by collaborative artist group Root 222 and featuring the masterful writing of poet Mary Szybist. Also joining us in the first half of the show were Mary Colleen Heil, President of PCA&D, and Tracy Cutler, Chief Communications Officer at Lancaster County Community Foundation. Together they told us about how each of their organizations plays a role in promoting the arts in Lancaster and how they are all supportive of the overall vision to see this become an increasingly viable part of the culture here.
For the second portion of the show, we talked with all of the artists who collaborated on the piece, which features the poem by Mary Szybist entitled “All Times and All Tenses Alive in this Moment”. Mary, an English professor from Portland, Oregon, told us the piece is about “trying to work with faith and doubt simultaneously”. The poem is arranged in a sunburst pattern to suggest that all the phrases in the poem are modifiers of the main idea. The reader is then able to begin at any point in the poem and still grasp the depth and meaning in the words.
From a visual aspect, the solar form became part of the design almost right away. Since the poem was already arranged in the shape of a sun, the design came together fairly quickly. The group spent about 6 days working on the mural, with a good chunk of that time dedicated to painting the text. Root 222 is made up of Anthony Mark, Schon Wanner, and Derec Hettinger. The guys were roommates while studying at PCA&D. They seemed to have an almost supernatural artistic connection between them, and it continues to run strong, years after they’ve graduated. They don’t spend too much time worrying about who will do what on a project. They just go with it, and everything tends to fall into place.
All four artists agree it is a thrill to have their work displayed so permanently for the public to enjoy. As Schon puts it, “At the end of the day, you’re still a little kid that says, ‘can you put this on the fridge?’ This is like the biggest fridge in town.”
We want to give a special thanks to PCA&D for letting us use some of the photos taken during the event for this post.
Support for this episode provided by Winding Way Books, Pennsylvania College of Art & Design.
Theme music: Invisible Walls by Revolution Void
Break music: Original Piece by Keith Slesser