Healing Arts: Painting & Poetry
April 29, 2017 – July 23, 2017
This exhibition brings together works from the Duckworth Museum’s collection with a selection of poetry on the themes of wellness, illness, and self-care. Nathaniel Rosenthalis, a Senior Fellow in Poetry at Washington University in St. Louis, where he received his M.F.A. in 2016, chose the poetry for this show.
“Some of the poems I selected for this exhibition have an illness as their clear subject; others relate to the anxiety around health, around mortality, around being a person at all. I went back to poems I have loved for a long time as well as searched for newer discoveries. In thinking and feeling through my own fears and desires, I have found these poems to be sources of comfort. But for those of us who are comfortable, let their power awaken and disturb. All that we can ask for from art is to be brought into sensitivity, however painful.” Rosenthalis, 2017
I’m the Senior Fellow in Poetry at Washington University for the 2016-17 year. I received my M.F.A. from Wash U and my B.A. from Sarah Lawrence. Before moving to St. Louis for graduate school, I worked in editorial at Oxford University Press in New York. I was born and raised in Wilmington, Delaware.
Duckworth, throughout his life, continued to be drawn to the exploration of the human condition.
“I think that what connects all these works, to me, is that I find life to be very puzzling and often painful…that strangeness of what it is to be alive…My interest is much more psychological than painting from life…I try to express the emotional content of my own state of mind.” Duckworth, Valley News 1983.
In August of 1999 Duckworth became seriously ill felt close to death. From this traumatic time came his series of Grim Reaper paintings which “explore variation on a haunting visual theme: an eye peering from beneath folds of a blanket, reminiscent of the grim reaper’s cloak.” Denton, Valley News 2000
For Duckworth, the act of painting was itself a way to heal, a form of self-care.
“If I don’t paint every week, I feel unwell” Duckworth, Valley News 1994
Poets included in this exhibition: John Ashbery, Mary Jo Bang, Tory Dent, Timothy Donnelly, Vievee Francis, Aracelis Girmay, Francine J. Harris, Lyn Hejinian, Bernadette Mayer, Thylias Moss, Claudia Rankine, Nathaniel Rosenthalis.