Mentor Elaine Handley and Artist Marco Montanari Collaborate in Ekphrasis Tradition

By Helen Edelman, manager, Exchange

November 26, 2013

Empire State College Mentor, Poet, Dr. Elaine Handley“Creating the Third Mind: A Painter and Poet Collaborate,” a collaborative art project featuring the work of both Mentor Elaine Handley, at left, a poet at Empire State College’s Saratoga Unit, and Marco Montanari, an artist from Colorado, will be featured at The Teaching Gallery at 111 West Ave., Saratoga Springs. From two distinct creative backgrounds, Handley is a writer and professor at the college whose poetry is in the tradition of “ekphrasis,” and Montanari is an encaustic painter, using paraffin and thinly polished glazes to achieve a wide range of textures. Both ekphrasis and encaustic painting are ancient traditions. The show runs through December.

Ekphrasis uses poetic language to write about art, an ancient tradition that exists in every known culture. The original goal of this literary form was to create the experience of a work of art for the reader so it could be imagined.  In modern times, ekphrasis shifted to the poet interpreting and entering into a work of art.

rough, cracked shield with red gashes and one blue point of light at the center. Art titled Dark Conflict.


memory cut open
pungent and sour
shock repeating
itself in rage
white articulation
your heart
a cold wet cave
curled into itself
someplace tender
this guarded space
between us
the only shield
we own

Elaine Handley

Poem: "Armour" - written by Elaine Handley inspired by Marco Montanari?s “Spiritual Warrior Shield” painting: “Dark Conflict Torn Through to the Warrior's Winged Light I" (pictured above)

The exhibit will highlight the visual dialogue that occurred between painter and poet as each was inspired by the other’s creative processes and work. Montanari and Handley have expanded the notion of ekphasis by the painter also painting in response to poems, as well as the poet writing about paintings.

“While the focus of exhibits in the gallery are always interdisciplinary in nature, ‘Creating the Third Mind: A Painter and Poet Collaborate,’ is a true collaborative approach that will encourage the viewer to participate by forming his or her own visual imagery in reaction to the poems and paintings,” said Judith Belt-Smith, curator. “The process of curating an exhibit is to be able to understand what will encourage and engage the students at Empire State College that are not only from various cultural backgrounds, but are also multigenerational.”

Belt-Smith holds a B.A. in the arts with a concentration in curatorial practice and museum studies from Empire State College and is a current MALS student with a concentration in museum education.

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Did You Know...

Empire State College will be minimally staffed Wednesday, Nov. 27. Please check with local centers to find out if services for students will be available on that day.

The college is closed for Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 28, and will not be open to serve the public on Friday, Nov. 29.

The technology helpdesk and the library are open Sunday, Dec. 1, from 1-9 p.m. EST as usual.

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