They are perhaps the proudest words in publishing.
In “About the Author #2” (2013), Buzz Spector collages 128 versions of that titular phrase. Printed in different fonts, sizes, colors and languages, they are stacked four-across in 32 rows, width varying but height constant. The effect is humorous and friendly, like a hardwood floor of mismatched planks, but also shrewdly, sympathetically obsessive — a scholarly peacock, a muttered mantra of writerly aspiration.
Mary Jo Bang deploys radically different means to achieve a similar tone of crafty generosity. Where Spector’s collages and image/poems riff on the sheen of the printed page, Bang’s intimately scaled sketches and found objects seem to comprise an extended meditation on just what counts as drawing.
In “Self-Portrait: Overeager Student” (2013), Bang presents a small wooden figurine of the Statue of Liberty, perhaps three inches tall, jauntily matted and pinned to the wall. Extracted from New York in a Bag, a novelty set sold at the Museum of Modern Art gift store, the re-contextualized piece slyly recalls a zealous pupil, arm thrust upward, hand waving in the air, knowing the answer and desperately hoping for a chance to display it.
“Otherwise: Mary Jo Bang & Buzz Spector” remains on view through Feb. 8 at the Fort Gondo Compound for the Arts (Beverly), 3155 Cherokee St. For more information, visit www.fortgondo.com or facebook.com/FortGondo.
About the artists
Bang is professor of English in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis and the author of six books of poems. Her 2012 translation of Dante’s “Inferno,” with illustrations by Henrik Drescher, was named among The New Yorker’s “Best Books of the Year. “A collection of poems titled “The Last Two Seconds” is forthcoming from Graywolf in 2015.
Spector is the Jane Reuter Hitzeman and Herbert F. Hitzeman Jr. Professor of Art and Dean of the College and Graduate School of Art in the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at WUSTL. His work has been shown at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., among many others.