It might have been cold the evening of January 21, but there was no doubt how warm the welcome was for the three artists that showed up at Orr Street Studios for a night of poetry, food writing and photography.
Lianuska Gutierrez is a poet who shares stories with a coming-of-age theme and topics like victimization as well as poetry that expresses redundancy of observation. In the first poem she shared, the girl who was originally weak strives to become the aggressor. A phrase that stuck out was "you will get thrown over like butter."
The second poem was a coming-of-age prose poem about a girl's body who is used over and over again. "The one I wanted I was sure did not want me."
The third piece was a poem that was more like a prose piece or short story and was about a woman deferring to intuition in her faith.
Drew Resnik is a photographer whose work is currently on display at Orr Street Studios. He's into film photography because digital photography is "soulless and heartless." He used to go hiking and take 1,000 or more images, but now he has narrowed that down to 5-10 images. This process forces him to slow down and think about what he's doing. "You don't take a photograph, you make it." This Ansel Adams quote is one of Resnik's favorites and sums up the whole experience for him.
In his process, Resnik has thrown a photo in the oven and/or added lemon juice on top to see how it would turn out. While the iPhone and photoshop may make things simple by having a button you can push to create vintage photos, it's just not the same for an artist to appreciate. An artist would not want to use that button. An artist would want to paint and create. Resnik once waited for five hours for clouds that never came to take the perfect landscape photo. But it was worth the wait.
He has lost the ability to take snapshots. Even at birthday parties when someone needs his help, he can't bring himself to take snapshots. He may need therapy?
Nina Furstenau is a teacher, journalist and food writer. Her unique background as an Indian growing up in southern Kansas has made it possible for her to write a collection of memoirs based around food. She read from her book, Biting Through the Skin: An Indian Kitchen in America’s Heartland.
Because southern Kansas is not a place exposed to various cultures, when Furstenau was 16, she strived for the "vocabulary of belonging." She invited her friends over for dinner and her mother served them Indian food, but they ended up being more comfortable with burgers and fries.
It ended up being a sad story, but the emphasis is on the fact that the food you eat says something about where you're from. This is evident in the writing exercise Furstenau asks her students to create in her food writing class at the University of Missouri. They must write about where they are from based on the foods they eat. "I am from spaghetti dinners before football..."
Art is a slow process of appreciation. You can't push a button and be done with it. There is no satisfaction in fast forwarding. You must take your time. Look carefully. Try on different cultures. Really hear. Really see.