Saying What We See: Giving Words to Art; Jessica Baran

Selecting language to describe visual art is a tricky enterprise: words influence the way that we see and inevitably apply stories and arguments to otherwise open-ended experiences. Not only do we use words to interpret the barrage of visual data we confront every day, we more frequently read about art than see it in person. The existence of art writing — in news dailies and weeklies, in local and national magazines — helps maintain the role of art in the general public’s conscience and provides more discerning tools for navigating (and questioning) our highly visual world. But what, exactly, are these tools and how does art writing work? In this presentation, we’ll examine more closely the subtle mechanics of this exchange: between the visual and non-verbal, and the poetics of expression.

Jessica Baran is the art writer for the Riverfront Times and the author of the poetry collection Remains to be Used (Apostrophe Books, 2010) as well as the chapbook of prose sonnets Late and Soon, Getting and Spending (All Along Press, 2011). Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in BOMB Magazine, Harp and Altar, and the Tusculum Review; her art criticism has appeared in Art in America, Art Papers, and the Village Voice, among other journals. She has organized exhibitions at the Front Room of the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, White Flag Projects, COCA and the St. Louis Artists’ Guild.