One of the great things about Nashville is the diversity of the talent among the artists who choose to call the city home. Artist advocate and local poet Stephanie Pruitt has a formula: art = ideas. Moving from her traditional skill set as a lauded poet and written and spoken word artist, she’s taken on the challenge of expressing herself through visual art by navigating a few tricky topics through found object art featuring foam, sunflower seeds, feathers, push pins, matches, and more.
The Scarritt Bennett Center’s Laskey Gallery will host Pruitt’s first visual arts exhibit, entitled ‘A Handful of Possibles,’ featuring 31 shadow box assemblage poems and 10 mixed media sculptures. In the works, she explores issues of class and food ‘(in)security.’ She came across a statistic that resonated with her, and then attempted to create each piece within the daily budget of an average family of four surviving on food stamps.
A Handful of Possibles began as a response to Pruitt’s creative writing work in the Fall of 2013. With the curiosity of a conceptual artist, the poet launched her 30x30x30 project, writing 30 poems in 30 days in relation to the 30 Americans art exhibit on display at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts. The 31 shadow boxes in the exhibit are her way of publishing the poems from the month of daily gallery visits and public writing sessions. However as she learned more about national food security issues, the artist incorporated the $9.92 constraint as an experiment in resourcefulness.
“Having $9.92 to make a sculpture look like gold and platinum felt more possible to me than feeding an entire family three meals a day with the same amount,” Pruitt said. “My work typically starts out of questions and compulsions or maybe a desire to see a process, sound, or image materialize. That’s personal. I publish and exhibit however, because I know that art is part of what makes us human. We exercise our empathy and critical thinking muscles with art.
“The works also highlight the creative process along with its constraints, and dynamics of ekphrasis and representationalism.”
Ekphrasis has been considered generally to be a rhetorical device in which one medium of art tries to relate to another medium by defining and describing its essence and form, and in doing so, relate more directly to the audience, through its illuminative liveliness. Representationalism, or indirect realism, is broadly equivalent to the accepted view of perception in natural science that states that we do not and cannot perceive the external world as it really is but know only our ideas and interpretations of the way the world is.
About Stephanie Pruitt
Stephanie Pruitt is an award winning, published poet who has taught arts education and creative writing at Vanderbilt University, Sewanee Young Writers’ Conference, and as a visiting artist in over 100 K-12 and community settings. The ARTrepreneur and TEDx speaker co-founded Poems & Pancakes and leads the Mind Your Creative Business workshop series for businesses, artists, and thought leaders incorporating creativity as a professional strategy. This is her first visual art exhibit.
A reception and artist talk at Scarritt Bennett Laskey Gallery (1008 19th Ave S., Nashville, Tenn. 37212) will be held from 4:30–6:30 pm, Monday, January 12. The reception and the exhibit, which will be on display until April 6, are free and open to the public.