Associate Professor of Art Danielle Langdon does not claim to be a poet.
Last fall, however, Langdon participated in a poetry workshop in advance of her planned sabbatical from Columbia College during the Spring 2023 semester.
“I hadn’t written poems since high school but I used to love doing it, so this was a revisiting for me,” Langdon says.
Her series of 15 original poems formed the backbone of what has resulted in an art exhibition entitled “Transitions” at the Hardwick Gallery in Brown Hall. The exhibition is on display through Dec. 16.
The show includes type animation videos and handmade books that bring her poetry to life, drawing inspiration from a summer research grant Langdon received in 2021. This grant allowed her to animate a poem by CC English Professor Dr. Peter Monacell.
“I loved the experience of animating a poem,” Langdon says. “The idea was to portray it in a way that would emulate when a poet reads their poem out loud.”
After this initial foray, she proposed and was approved for a sabbatical in which she would further explore this genre of art.
Her next step was writing her own poems to form the basis of her sabbatical project.
“Every poem was written with the artwork in mind,” Langdon says.
She wrote the poems last year before her sabbatical began this January. After revising the poetry in the first week of her sabbatical, she began creating several pieces of artwork that reflect a common theme about grief and family relationships.
She penned the first poem, entitled “Black Pools,” one week after the death of her father-in-law.
“This one was the catalyst for the rest of the poems in this exhibition, but they are all independent of one another,” she says.
She says the creative process provided a form of therapy in processing her own emotions.
“Some of the content is heavy, but there is also a lightness to it, and finding that balance makes something like grief approachable,” she says.
Langdon dove head-first into the intricacies of type animation to produce three animations that further express her poetry. For the bookmaking element of the project, Langdon focused on accordion books and explored different ways of folding paper to draw viewers into the meaning of the words.
The book designs emulate the motion of the type animations, tying the whole show together.
The overall theme is rooted in “this feeling of transition from one phrase to another, one word to another, and how you can use transitions to emphasize certain points or set an overall tone for whatever words you’re writing,” Langdon says.
She says she is thankful for her sabbatical, which reinforced to her the importance of setting aside time to be creative, to “daydream, experiment and play.”
“We are all creative as human beings,” Langdon says. “I think learning how to harness your creativity to your advantage is a skill that everybody can use. I hope this exhibition helps people think about their own experience with grief or their own family or friends, these universal themes.”