“Sitting Between the Sea and the Buildings” Symposium

Saturday, May 11, 2013
12:00 PM-6:00 PM

Poetry Foundation
61 West Superior Street, Chicago, Illinois

This event is free and open to the public.

The Joan Mitchell Foundation, Poetry Foundation, and special guests convene for a symposium on various ways artists and poets develop their work through collaboration. Taking Joan Mitchell's legacy of collaboration with poets as a starting point, the day will include talks, readings, demonstrations, and performances that explore intersections of visual art and poetry.

Participants include poets Bill Berkson, Douglas Kearney, and John Yau; visual artists Terry Adkins, Lesley Dill, and Mildred Howard; and April Sheridan and Stephen Woodall of the Center for Book and Paper Arts at Columbia College Chicago. The afternoon will conclude with the announcement of a commissioned performance piece, to be created collaboratively by Adkins and Kearney. The goal of the commission is to examine and experience how collaboration can change the way artists and poets think and work.

Sitting Between the Sea and the Buildings, named after the first line of John Ashbery's "The Painter," is organized by the Joan Mitchell Foundation and Poetry magazine in connection with the exhibition currently on view at the Poetry Foundation: Joan Mitchell: At Home in Poetry. The exhibition features a large-scale quadriptych painting, Minnesota (1980), as well as photographs, correspondence, print portfolios, and artists' books Joan Mitchell created in collaboration with poets. It will be open through May 31.



12:00 PM Open Door & Welcome
12:30 PM Poetry & Anecdotes, by Bill Berkson, with keepsake print produced by the
Center for Book and Paper Arts
1:30 PM Break
1:45 PM Artist Talk, by Lesley Dill
2:15 PM Artist Talk, by Mildred Howard 
2:45 PM Poetry & Art, by John Yau
3:15 PM  Break
3:45 PM Artists Among Poets: A Panel Discussion moderated by poet and critic
John Yau, including visual artists Lesley Dill and Mildred Howard and poet
Bill Berkson
5:00 PM Untitled: The Joan Mitchell Foundation and Poetry magazine announce a
Commissioned performance piece, to be created collaboratively by artist
Terry Adkins and poet Douglas Kearney
A short demonstration will
accompany the announcement.
5:30 PM Reception





Terry Adkins is an interdisciplinary artist, musician, and cultural practitioner engaged in an ongoing quest to reinsert the legacies of unheralded immortal figures to their rightful place within the panorama of history. Under the auspices of the Lone Wolf Recital Corps, he stages emblematic installation-based experiences that utilize a variety of real time and static media. 


Bill Berkson is a poet, art critic, and professor emeritus at the San Francisco Art Institute. Recent books include Portrait and Dream: New & Selected Poems and Repeat After Me. His art criticism has appeared in ARTnews, Artforum, Art in America, and other places.


Lesley Dill works in sculpture, photography, and performance, using a variety of media and techniques to explore themes of language, the body, and transformational experience. Recent projects include the opera Divide Light, based on the poetry of Emily Dickinson. 


Mildred Howard is known for her sculptural installations and mixed media assemblage work, and has created a variety of public installation works in collaboration with poets and writers. "Since the very beginning of my artistic career," she writes, "poetry and music have been daily inspirations."


Douglas Kearney is a poet, performer, and librettist. He describes the nontraditional layout of his poems as "performative typography." His newest book, Patter, will be published by Red Hen Press in 2014. He is currently working on an opera called Dead Horses.


April Sheridan is the Special Projects Coordinator at the Center for Book and Paper Arts at Columbia College Chicago. As a letterpress printer, she is interested in the artistic possibilities of the broadside and its place in American culture. She currently serves on the boards of the American Printing History Association, Inland Chapter and the Chicago Printers Guild. 


Steve Woodall is director of the Center for Book and Paper Arts at Columbia College Chicago. In collaboration with poets, visual artists, typographers, and printers, he has developed many programs dedicated to the visual presentation of poetry.


John Yau recently published a book of poetry, Further Adventures in Monochrome and a chapbook, Egyptian Sonnets. He teaches at Mason Gross School of the Arts (Rutgers University) and lives in New York City.


About the Center for Book and Paper Arts at Columbia College Chicago 

The Center for Book and Paper Arts is dedicated to the research, teaching, and promotion of the interdisciplinary practices that support the book arts and hand papermaking as contemporary art media. Part of the Interdisciplinary Arts Department at Columbia College Chicago, the center houses graduate and undergraduate classes, publishes a critical journal and artists' books, mounts exhibitions, and hosts a wide variety of programs.


About the Poetry Foundation The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine, is an independent literary organization committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture. It exists to discover and celebrate the best poetry and to place it before the largest possible audience. The Poetry Foundation seeks to be a leader in shaping a receptive climate for poetry by developing new audiences, creating new avenues for delivery, and encouraging new kinds of poetry through innovative literary prizes and programs. For more information, please visit


About Poetry magazine

Founded in Chicago by Harriet Monroe in 1912, Poetry is the oldest monthly devoted to verse in the English-speaking world. Monroe's "Open Door" policy, set forth in Volume 1 of the magazine, remains the most succinct statement of Poetry's mission: to print the best poetry written today, in whatever style, genre, or approach. The magazine established its reputation early by publishing the first important poems of T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Marianne Moore, Wallace Stevens, H.D., William Carlos Williams, Carl Sandburg, and other now-classic authors. In succeeding decades it has presented - often for the first time - works by virtually every major contemporary poet. In 2011, the magazine was honored with two National Magazine Awards. It celebrated its centennial in 2012.


About the Joan Mitchell Foundation

The Joan Mitchell Foundation celebrates the legacy of Joan Mitchell and expands her vision to support the aspiration and development of diverse contemporary artists. Through art education programs, artist grants, exhibitions and publications, partnerships with arts organizations, and an artist-in-residence program at the Joan Mitchell Center in New Orleans, the Foundation works to broaden the recognition of artists and their essential contributions to communities and society. 


About Joan Mitchell

Joan Mitchell (1925-1992) was born in Chicago and educated at Smith College and the Art Institute of Chicago. She was among the leading Abstract Expressionist painters in New York in the 1950s, and in 1955 began dividing her time between New York and France. In 1968 she settled permanently in Vétheuil, France, where she lived and worked the rest of her life. Over her career of more than fifty years, she produced a body of paintings and works on paper that represents one of the stunning artistic achievements of the twentieth century. Mitchell's work can be seen in museums and public collections around the world.