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The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

PO/ART/RY exhibit introduces new mashup of visual, textual art

ArtiFactory co-director Phil Beck held a showcase with a focus on the intersections of art and poetry, emphasizing the spaces where they connect and interact.
Sahithi Shankaiahgari
The Artifactory is seen in Iowa City on Thursday, Dec. 7, 2023.

The ArtiFactory’s new exhibit could have looked like any other, with works displayed all over the little room’s walls, containing everything from paintings to sculptures to a life-size dress. However, Phil Beck, the co-president of the venue’s board of directors, had a different idea.

To celebrate National Poetry Month, he created a new gallery with a unique mashup of poetry and art.

The ArtiFactory’s website described the combinations as not exhaustive but “representative of the dynamic exchanges that visual, verbal, and through dance-mobile arts can create together.”

Beck’s inspiration drew from a poet in town who collaborated with an abstract fabric design artist years ago.

“They had a joint show and a reading of a few of the poems. I just thought that was a really good idea, and wanted to do it on a bigger scale,” he said.

One of the collections consisted of three framed watercolor paintings, both with original poems by artist and poet Ann Miracle underneath them.

Almost every single work had the same type of idea, whether it be a fusion of poetry or art or just simply a standalone piece.

During the showcase, each poet and artist was asked to stand in front of their piece and, depending if they had a poem, would read it aloud, or if it was just an original work, they would explain it to the audience.

The exhibit distinguished itself from a conventional gallery via the dance performance halfway through the readings. Attendees had gathered around a small stage right near the works to watch choreographer and dancer Angela Hayes and UI alum Wendy Labinger’s collaboration.

The two had done something very unique. As Labinger spoke her poem into a microphone, Hayes had created a dance to go along with it. Her moves were fluid and echoed the mood of the work.

“I listen to the rhythm of the poem, and even if I don’t do a movement that’s right along with it, I sometimes like to let the rhythm happen in the poem,” Hayes said. “This is the first thing I’ve done for this space.”

Labinger was also satisfied with the collaboration.

“My favorite part of [the exhibit] was working with Angie, presenting with Angie,” she said. “We were best friends for many years.”

Artist Chris Carman presented his sculpture collection, one of which consisted of a blue dome encasing a gold-framed picture of a figure. Above them, there was a cutout of a heart and lungs surrounded by a circle of constellations.

At the bottom of the work was a quote by poet Naomi Shihab Nye which read, “There’s a way not to be broken that takes brokenness to find.”

“I’ve had [this piece] for several years,” Carman said. “[It] has been a part of my house and a part of my life.”

Many local artists had the opportunity to be heard and seen at PO/ART/RY at the center of the exhibit.

“Since I started getting the show ready, I had no idea how many people were cross-pollinating the arts and their own aesthetic life,” Beck said. “I am hoping that we can expand our place in the community and get more people to know about us and come to see our exhibits. I think we are doing a very valuable thing.”

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About the Contributor
Isabelle Lubguban
Isabelle Lubguban, Arts Reporter
Isabelle Lubguban is a third-year student at the University of Iowa. She is majoring in English with a concentration of Creative Writing. This is her first year at the Daily Iowan as an Arts Reporter, and she enjoys doing photo and video editing in her free time.