The Boston Architectural College is pleased to host The Space of Poetry, a public exhibition featuring the work of educator, writer, and illustrator Cara Armstrong, in the College's 951 Boylston Street Building from Friday, February 14 through Thursday, May 1, 2014. On April 30, 5:00 pm, the BAC will also host a gallery talk, which is free and open to the public.
The exhibition allows us to delve into the space of poetry by bringing it together with architecture history, theory and design, encouraging viewers to look critically at poetic construction and promoting a more evocative understanding of architecture and writing.
"Cara Armstrong's work brings together a love of poetry with its attendant meaning and pauses with architectural ideas that are drawn over and through the poems to find a resonance between structure and story," said Karen Nelson, Head of the School of Architecture at the BAC, and curator of the exhibition.
By considering poetry as a built environment, Cara reveals spaces, meanings, and relationships in poems that may not be immediately evident to a reader. She draws out connections between images, sounds, and lines. She plays with the cadence and mathematical organization of poetry and draws to make new readings and alignments evident. First, to understand the components (story, structure, music, imagination) of a poem, Cara looks at poet Gregory Orr's Four Temperaments and the Forms of Poetry. Using the lens of architecture and art, she visually considers story, structure, music, and imagination as building blocks. Then, through architectural analysis techniques such as solid/void analysis and diagramming, she translates individual poems into a set of spatial relationships that becomes art in its own right. This allows the work of poets such as John Donne, Jean Valentine, and Jane Mead to converse across time and brings to light similarities in form, structure, and meaning. Cara draws attention to the silences/pauses in the poems, the places between the voiced lines, which call our minds to the implicit and explicit patterns in and between stanzas. Her insightful drawings and notations blur the boundaries of architecture, poetry, and art to find a transdisciplinary discourse that examines how form, space, and order can be generative and convey meaning, while creating zones of indeterminacy and focus, of repetition and release. The drawings create discontinuities and capture turns of mood and phrase. By holding the words under ink and wash, she gives us a new way of reading.
"For me, drawing, painting, and making are ways of thinking," said Cara. "Visual representation gives me a deeper reading, a spatial translation that expands my understanding of a poem's form and meaning."
Cara received bachelor's degrees in Environmental Design and Philosophy (both cum laude) from Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, a master's degree in architecture from Columbia University, and an MFA in Poetry from Drew University. She was awarded two fellowships for study in England and Canada. Armstrong was a project director at the Urban Design Center in Kent, Ohio, 1994-95 and an intern architect at Myers Associates, Architects, Medina, Ohio, before taking a post in 1995 as historic preservation planner with the city of Key West (Fla.) Planning Department. She was named President of Gecko Roamin' Inc., a gallery in Key West that featured her art-to-wear designs and the work of other local artists in Key West, FL, in 1997. In 2002, the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy named her Curator of Buildings and Collections at Fallingwater. She was Fallingwater's Curator of Education from 2006 through June 2010. Currently, she is Director of the School of Architecture and Art at Norwich University.