Saturday, May 18, 2024

Look then Read: Joel Lipman

Look Then Read: Big Sheets, an exhibition of enlarged versions of visual poems and collages by Joel Lipman, 2022 University of Toledo Department of Art Axon Fellow, is on exhibit in the UT Center for Visual Arts Gallery through January 6. 

Lipman has been a cornerstone of Toledo’s poetry community for decades. Along with Nick Muska, a fellow poet and driving force behind the Toledo Poetry Museum, Lipman has hosted poetry readings and workshops and has built a community for poets and creative writers. His affiliation with the University of Toledo’s Department of English allowed him to bring in visiting artists and writers to enrich the local offerings. His classes revolved around the visceral, the tangible, the essential experiences of expression. Now a professor emeritus of English at UT, in 2008 Lipman was the first appointed poet laureate of Lucas County. 

The intersection of art and the written word

Lipman’s interests lie at the intersection of writing and art. He has taught about ekphrasis (writing about art or inspired by art) and about artist’s books (TMA has a great selection in its archives). 

The tradition of artists and writers using existing books as a jumping-off point for their own creative expression, like a written collage, is a popular medium.  An example is blackout poetry, where a page from a book is blacked out except for a smattering of words on the page; the words remaining then communicate a sentiment or statement. Lipman works in this tradition – “treating” pre-existing texts with rubber stamps and graphic elements like printing blocks. These works require a different sort of interpretation: look at something to see what it is, identify its components and their origins. Then, after determining those factors, read to see what it says.

Visual poetics

Lipman’s exhibition is a fantastic opportunity to see, up close, how his visual poetics come to be. The Axon Fellowship at the University of Toledo’s Department of Art created the opportunity for Lipman to print and display large versions of his collages, with the help of professor Eric Zeigler and the Art Print Center. Altering the scale of Lipman’s work offers a grander look at his creative process. 

Through January 6, 2023. The Center for Visual Arts, adjacent to the Toledo Museum of Art, 620 Art Museum Drive.

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