Angela Battle

Angela Battle
Untitled (To 'Fog' by James Hearst)
Beeswax and pigment painting, 2006
Selection: The Fog

The Complete Poetry of James Hearst weighs one pound, eleven ounces, is an inch and a quarter thick and measures six inches wide by nine inches deep. I don’t know why I was moved to determine these figures except that the volume first struck me by its literal weight and depth. As I plumbed the pages I began to contrast this with an immeasurable depth in a writer who drew deeply from place and profession, from heart and mind, from history and nature, from tragedy and love and whose style and aesthetic changed as he changed over time. Here was a poet who remained devoted to his craft in an intensive way throughout his life. The more I read the more I understood him to be a poet who constantly measured himself against landscape and all that it contains and is influenced by, against the complexities of interpersonal relationships and global humanity.

I knew that I wanted the results of this experience to reflect collaboration - a dialogue between a poet and a painter. Consciously I allowed my own conceptual interests in the natural world and more specifically my current interests in clouds and related weather phenomena to influence my ultimate choice of one of Hearst’s earlier works, Fogas the one to which I would ask and answer through painting.

 Fog is a solemn work. Hearst deftly uses a beautiful and simple description to simultaneously cloak and reveal complex layers of meaning. Within the ‘fog’ I sense contemplation of an Iowa farmer’s thread to the global community held up against the necessary aloneness of such an individual’s specific life and locality; a meditation on the requisite sadness of keeping current and ever aware of a big and busy world while existing on a pinpoint of land in a place that rarely makes the news. There is an underlying sense of foreboding carried by a train and a barking dog and a fog- shrouded neighbor’s home and a final irony in an isolation that defiantly seeks to feed the world. Hope, too, trickles into the conversation and Hearst clearly understands the deep geological history of the land upon which his life is lived.

To differing degrees, it is all of these multiple levels of awareness that I sought to convey in a painting of beeswax and color by molding and co-mingling image and shape both literal and metaphorical, objective and subjective, rational and intuitive, traveling up and down to encompass the round.

I welcomed this opportunity to intersect the poetry of James Hearst with my own vernacular in visual art and would like to thank The Hearst Center for the Arts for giving me the experience.

Angela Battle 

Angela Battle Untitled (To 'Fog' by James Hearst)