Christianna Potter Hannum, ‘Chalfant’
from Christianna’s reading with Maxim D. Shrayer – Spring 2016
'Chalfant' is a short piece from swishpan, one of the writer's four compilations of short stories and poems. It captures the writer's relationship to a specific and personally significant place here in Chester County – in a voice that is direct and evocative, getting right to the heart of the profound importance of place to our most human experiences.
8A. John Y. Wind, 'Christy's Castle', part of a larger work entitled 'The Women'. Listen to Street Road Director Emily Artinian, John, and Christy discuss this piece, and other things, here:
Portrait of C (Christy’s Castle), 2016 is part of a larger, ongoing project entitled The Women. It is an examination and celebration of the women in my life through a series of collaborative, conceptual portraits. I am interested in exploring the complexity of public and private identity as represented by our material possessions; the ways in which we create and style our personas through stories, objects, and interactions with others; and the very definition and limits of portraiture. 25 diverse, life-size assemblages, many with audio tracks as well, will ultimately be displayed together as if at a party—a cacophonous tribute to the women in my life that also (I hope) invites viewers to consider their own identities.
Each portrait begins with a series of conversations between subject and artist. Biographical details emerge, interests, passions, fantasies. Negotiations begin for what physical objects the subject is willing to donate to her piece, or what might be bought in facsimile. A concept gradually emerges, and over time and additional conversation and review, becomes reality…
For Portrait of C, we spoke about Christy’s life in broad strokes, and then in more detail about her epic adventure of the last few years—discovering Riga over a six month period and returning to the US with two beautiful, adopted Latvian children. I heard about the mysterious castles dotting the Latvian countryside. Not like Disney castles, she stressed--darker and lower to the ground. But still, castles meant for princes and princesses, and seemingly ideal for containing the lore and mythology of her own captivating life.
I hired a woodworker to build Christy’s Castle from plywood, and had it mounted high atop a lattice fence and several steps that must be climbed to fully view the piece (and feel like a child doing so…) Like an advent calendar, the arches, windows and towers became literal doors into Christy’s narrative. Some compartments record the Latvian story directly—a map of Riga, a translated copy of Snow White, a Latvian snow globe… Some are about Christy’s own identity as an artist—a writer and filmmaker. One, containing a monogram ‘C’ necklace, represents a connection she and I share through my jewelry designs. A few are more private and cryptic, their meaning to others less obvious…representing in shorthand the deeper, more complicated picture of anyone’s true life.
Completed in mid-2016, this work also marks a turning point in my project—at just past the half-way mark, it represents a shift to more poetic portraits—an interest in capturing the subject’s essence through a simpler and more singular gesture; rather than working encyclopedically and building a whole from the sum of her parts as in earlier pieces. It is thus my hope that when all 25 women are displayed together, the variety of formal approaches, coupled with the diversity of the subjects themselves, will combine to create an inviting and compelling assembly.
A selection of other portraits can be seen on my website.
John Y Wind
8B. 1889 Daily Local News article about the Barnard family brought in by Bob Gouge