Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Hello, World!

Good May morning, people! The snowbanks persist outside my office window, and we're due for another 10 cm (4 inches) tomorrow. But if you squint at just the right angle, you can see greening in poplars and grassy patches. I'm pretending that spring is on her way.

Meanwhile, I'm also a little late in shoveling out from under some writing and work commitments. For all that I'm in no way affiliated with formal schooling, this time of year -- this year, at least -- has a distinct "end of semester" feel about it.

But something else is at work, too. Recently, I participated in Liar, Liar, an integrated arts project funded by the Ontario Arts Council (thanks, OAC!). The work is currently in the Thunder Bay (Historical) Museum -- through June 2, in fact.

My participation in the project more or less ended when I submitted my short story, "Improvisation," for consideration. Four short stories about lying were chosen. Since then, artists in various disciplines have created work (paintings, glasswork, sculpture, collage, soundscapes) around those stories and that theme.

I finally had the chance to see the artwork at the exhibit's opening reception about ten days ago. (The cookies were a little hard but people still ate them.) (By "people" I of course mean "me.") What a strange and wonderful experience to see interpretations of a short story in other media.

One of the more striking works was the sculpture entitled "Toots" by John Books, a Thunder Bay artist. (I might be biased, of course.) My story featured a cat, a trumpet player, jazz, and some lying. It's a relatively light work -- I love the characters, in spite of their flaws.

John's sculpture starts with story elements but goes deeper to allude to the sad parts of the legacy of jazz, and death, and the price artists (and we all) pay for silence and for lies. The sculpture not pretty, but it's beautiful and arresting.

Writers often send words into the ether or onto paper and rarely find out whether their work has influenced someone else. Participating in this project has reminded me that words matter. I'm very grateful to Debbie Metzler, the artistic director of Liar, Liar, and all the other participants.

So that's what I'm sitting with, even as I also frantically tie up loose ends and find my work rhythm again after vacation. It's a lovely way to greet spring. Once she shows up for real!