I’m very fortunate and honored to have been selected as the first Artist in Residence for Chicago Detours, a tour company that offers creative, guided tours of architecture, history and culture. My project will explore this creative contextualizing through poetry comics. I’m super excited about this opportunity! The pictured poetry comics here came from twelve statements I heard while walking through the Chicago French Market in 2011.
I’m inspired by “conversation snapshots.” When we walk through a place, we take in the sights and sounds much like a camera does – in many snapshots. We hear a fragment of a conversation off to our left – a man saying, “That’s the message – Mr. Rance is not getting out of the house – I don’t know why.” We pass by and hear no more of Mr. Rance’s situation, but to our right a young woman says, “…that was my lesson – one of my lessons.” Someone further down remarks, “It’s the best music ever written!” and across from them, an elderly woman’s voice impatiently says: “I sat right with you!”
My creative process
These examples were collected by me while walking through the Philadelphia International Airport. When we walk through crowds of people, we can tune them out and think our own thoughts. Or we can design contexts – background stories – for the things we hear. We decide, perhaps, that the elderly woman was trying to jog the memory of her elderly partner. Maybe the lessons learned had to do with relationships. Maybe the best music ever written was something classical. Or we can get more creative – maybe Mr. Rance isn’t getting out of the house because he morphed into a very large fish and he won’t fit through the door.
You never know.
I’ll walk through three yet to-be-determined Chicago neighborhoods and write down what I hear folks say. Only one short statement per voice – I want snapshots: quick, contextless statements. I’ll use imagination to illustrate these in whatever way occurs to me – silly, dark, realistic, strange. Then I’ll put them in the order I heard them, and voila: a strange portrait emerges of both the neighborhood and the tourist. What the people actually said, and my creative interpretation of it. I’ll post updates on the progress of my art on Facebook. I’ll also be contributing a couple more blog posts over the next eight weeks. Look out for details on the exhibit, too!
— Elisabeth Blair, Artist in Residence