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The Big Read Comes To BSC: Accomplished Artist’s Works Currently on Exhibit at the Campus


New York based artist Lesley Dill drew inspiration from many of Emily Dickinson’s poems for her paintings, sculptures, and photography.

Birmingham-Southern College is the proud host of Lesley Dill’s art from April 4, 2016 until April 28, 2016 in the Durbin Gallery on the campus as a part of the Big Read Birmingham project. The official opening reception was on Friday, April 8, 2016 from 6-8 p.m. in the Durbin Gallery. Dill gave an artist’s talk on Thursday, April 7 from 4-5 p.m. in the Norton Theatre on campus. The artist’s talk was offered as a cultural credit to the students of BSC to encourage them to attend the event. Students at Birmingham-Southern have to obtain a certain number of cultural credits in order to graduate from the school.

The Big Read Birmingham project is a program that is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. The purpose of the Big Read is to broaden our understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book. Managed by Arts Midwest, this initiative offers grants to support innovative community reading programs designed around a single book. The book that the Big Read Birmingham project focuses on is The Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson.

Lesley Dill is an accomplished artist and Birmingham-Southern should be honored to be hosting her work right now. Her pieces have been widely shown across the globe. Her works are in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum of Art.

Art Criticisms are something that I find to be a challenge to write about. The reason is mainly that art is something that is so subjective and can be one of the most difficult things to interpret. All that being said I enjoyed observing all of Dill’s works that are on display in the Durbin Gallery. A few works stuck out in particular in my mind. These three paintings are “Only”, “This Was a Poet”, and “Wire Wall of Words.”

“Only” was an interesting work of art that Dill came up with. This sculpture was made in 2004. At first glance, I thought that the sculpture looked like the body of a person who has died. The sculpture was painted bronze. The bronze was painted using ink, wire, and thread. I was bewildered by this sculpture until I noticed the poem “Only” next to the sculpture. While the poem helped to provide a little clarification as to the meaning of the sculpture, I was still confused as to what the meaning of the sculpture and the poem both were.

The next work one of Dill’s pieces that I admired was “This Was a Poet.” When I first saw this work of art, I was amazed by the sheer size of it. The piece must have taken up nearly half of the available wall space in the art gallery. The more I looked at the piece, the more confused I was by it. The artwork is made up of random words that were written in a style, that I could not understand. These illegible words helped to form two random words in the painting. This recent piece just came out earlier this calendar year. This piece was done on paper using oil pastel.

The last piece of artwork that I admired from Dill was the “Wire Wall of Words.” Dill did this work in 1995. The words in this piece were made up of copper wire. Much like “This Was a Poet,” I was having a very difficult time trying to comprehend what was going on in this piece. I could not understand the words that made up this piece. While I could not understand the script, that did not mean that I did not appreciate the piece any less.

I really enjoyed Dill’s pieces that are currently on display in the Durbin Gallery. I would highly recommend to anyone that has not already, to go by and see the artwork. It is a true honor for BSC to have the works of such an accomplished artist on the campus and I think that the students should go and take advantage of the opportunity to appreciate Dill’s works. This could be a once in a lifetime opportunity that may never happen again.

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