“Figural: Bodies in Print,” an art exhibition at the Janet Turner Print Museum at Chico State University, features poems written and performed by Jeffery Oliver, communications and media specialist in the College of Arts and Sciences dean’s office. The exhibition runs from Sept. 20 through Nov. 20.
Megan Glynn Zollinger, associate professor of dance at Chico State, contacted Oliver about collaborating on a dance and poetry project last summer. She conceived “Then and Back” as a dance to be performed to poems by Oliver as the score. When she was invited to be a guest curator for “Figural: Bodies in Print” along with faculty from the art department, her idea evolved into a dance video that would become an installation in the exhibition.
Oliver wrote and recorded the poems in his home studio and Zollinger worked with dancer and recent Chico State alumna Natsumi Kawamura to develop the dance. They recorded the dance performance and Zollinger edited the video. Zollinger also collaborated with costume designer Elizabeth Grace Davis who created a dress that flows and glistens with the dance and echoes themes in the poems.
“Then and Back” are poems excerpted from Oliver’s book project “The Astronomer’s Daughter” that is a meditation on time, memory, and being, the author said. A character who lives outside of time appears throughout the poems and is the imagined daughter of the astronomer who “lectured with much applause” in Walt Whitman’s poem “The Learn’d Astronomer.”
You can watch “Then and Back” on the Turner museum website.