Author Topic: Dante Commemoration  (Read 520 times)

Offline K-2

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Dante Commemoration
« on: November 30, 2021, 09:19:32 PM »
2021 marks the 700th anniversary of the death of the Italian poet, philosopher & statesman, Dante Alighieri.  I'm organizing a commemorative event on 3 Dec 2021 at my university that will feature a student panel discussing "how and why we read Dante today", and an experiential, collaborative, performative, artwork, drawing on Dante's magnum opus, The Divine Comedy.  The artwork combines passages from the poem with creative responses generated by participants in the form of drawings, poems, memoir, and other expressions. The Divine Comedy takes place in an imagined literary "afterlife," but fundamentally meditates on the physical & spiritual traces we leave in this world through our interactions with our families, friends, and societies.

Participants in the project will add their responses to the text, prepared on a large (6' x 2') canvas. Prompts will include the following:

• Draw one of the sinners or saints or monsters represented in Dante's poetry
• Draw a symbol of hope, of sorrow, or of suffering
• Write a poem or a story in response to Dante or one of the drawings you see
• Write a memorial tribute to a loved one or someone you admire
• Write an apology for a wrong you've done
• Write a note of forgiveness for a wrong done to you
• Leave a handprint where you see yourself
• Write an aspirational goal (spiritual or physical)
• Write a thank you note expressing gratitude for something.

Dante's work stands at the intersection of social science, arts, and humanities. The project embraces diverse responses to his ideas about justice, rendered in Dante's exploration of sin and redemption through the three parts of The Divine Comedy: Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso. The project's immersive experience supports the mission of the University of Minnesota-Duluth, College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences by encouraging participants to place their own stories in the context of Dante's narrative about the human capacity to learn from the past, understand the present, and shape the future.

...so here's the prepped canvas (which is a bit hard to make out in this small-scale photo).  Participants will use bleach to write/draw on it - that lifts the ink creating something of a ghostly effect.  I'll show some details from it that show off the calligraphy better in another post.  And I'll post what it all turns out looking like after the event.

Offline K-2

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Re: Dante Commemoration
« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2021, 09:26:37 PM »
Close up details

Offline K-2

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Re: Dante Commemoration
« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2021, 09:29:39 PM »
And the "title" image.  I know, I know - they're hard to read.  I can only say that they're way more legible in real life.  And it's going to look so cool when people get to drawing and writing on it.

Offline Erica McPhee

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Re: Dante Commemoration
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2021, 09:51:48 AM »
This is incredible. What an amazing endeavor. I am looking forward to seeing the after once the students have added their work. Best of luck to you!  :)
Truly, Erica
Lettering/Design Artist, Homeopath, Photographer, Mom, Wife
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Offline AnasaziWrites

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Re: Dante Commemoration
« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2021, 09:58:48 AM »
Wow, what a terrific project. Your use of color is wonderful, as always, and the idea of allowing the audience to participate in so many ways is a great way to inspire thoughts, insights, feelings, all with a common background. It should also show how a single image can provoke so many different reactions. A really fine teaching/learning tool. Brilliant. I hope it is in a place where it can be seen by many people, and that many will participate in adding to it. I'll also be looking eagerly forward to the "finished" (if it can ever be said to be finished) product. How long will it be available to receive additions? Although large at 2 by 6 feet, I wouldn't be surprised if it gets crowded, at least in some sections. I wonder where the most comments will be placed?

Were I the professor and you the student submitting this as a art/pedagogical project, you would receive an "A."

I may post something here in response (not to be placed on the work, of course) after some thought about it.

Offline K-2

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Re: Dante Commemoration
« Reply #5 on: December 01, 2021, 11:30:22 AM »
@Erica McPhee and @AnasaziWrites - thank you so much for your kind thoughts about the project!  It was strangely, mentally exhausting to produce, knowing that my grant funding gave me ONE enormous piece of canvas (which has to be specially coated for ink work) and enough ink to have ONE SHOT at getting it right.  I did a lot of test pieces before committing to the big canvas, but you know, it's easy to make mistakes.

As for the color work - the idea of the rainbow derives from the very end of La Commedia, in the final stanzas of Paradiso.  Dante describes the cloud of unknowing that comes upon him, subsuming his powers of speech into a living light:

And in the profound and clear substance
   Of that high radiance three rings now appeared,
   Of three colors and equal circumference.
Two reflected each other, as rainbow
   By rainbow, and the third seemed like fire
   Breathed forth equally from the other two

If anyone is up in Northern Minnesota on Friday morning (3 Dec 2021), come join us and make your mark - we'll be in the UMD Bagley Classroom (next to the pond - bring your skates for some fun and exercise afterward; it's frozen and we've been sweeping the snow off).  The panel presentation starts at 10:00am.  The event is free and open to the public.

--yours, K

Offline K-2

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Re: Dante Commemoration
« Reply #6 on: December 10, 2021, 02:27:27 PM »
Fellow Flourishers -- The Dante commemoration went great!  We had a standing room only crowd, and the students on the introductory panel did a wonderful job explaining "how and why we read Dante today," and making their marks on the canvas.  Most of them marked in the "Inferno" and "Purgatorio" zones, but there were a few contributions to "Paradiso".

Since then however, the canvas has languished!  Nobody over the age of 23 seems to want to write or draw on it.  My colleagues keep saying, "Oh, it's really beautiful; I would have to think about what I'd write/draw! I don't want to ruin it!"  So in the course of the entire week, nobody has added anything to it -- can you believe that?

Meanwhile, the university Library is looking to make it part of their permanent collection, and display it in the grand stairway.  But I can't give it to them until it's more filled in!

@AnasaziWrites @Erica McPhee @darrin1200 @Aries M - I wish you all could come make your marks!

Offline Erica McPhee

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Re: Dante Commemoration
« Reply #7 on: December 10, 2021, 05:05:36 PM »
Congratulations! So happy to hear it went well. And wow - what an honor for them to want to make it a part of their permanent collection.

I understand completely about no one wanting to “mess it up.” That kind of thing terrifies me. I once wrote something in an IAMPETH memory book in my sloppy handwriting thinking it was just “autographs” and then went back and saw all the contributions from the other calligraphers who had drawn guidelines, and taken their time, and done something spectacular. LOL! Fear of having my “unplanned” work on someone else’s beautiful art work is the stuff nightmares are made of.  ;D

Hopefully you can entice a few more to add to it.  :-*. Bravo to you. Hope we get to see some pics.
Truly, Erica
Lettering/Design Artist, Homeopath, Photographer, Mom, Wife
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