Word play exhibit opens at Liberty Arts Gallery

Charlie Unkefer
Peering through a web of words, the crowd at Liberty Arts in Yreka listens as audience members share their poetry during the opening of the “Speak and Be Heard” show Friday evening. Part literature, part art and part performance, the show, which will run through April 13, stands as a tribute to the creative spirit of Siskiyou County residents, as well as to the transformative power of language.

Liberty Arts Yreka bustled with activity as arts fans and “word nerds” gathered Friday evening for the opening of the gallery’s latest exhibit, “Speak and Be Heard: Voices in the State of Jefferson.” 

Part literature, part art and part performance, the show, which will run through April 13, stands as a tribute to the creative spirit of Siskiyou County residents, as well as to the transformative power of language.

The show consists of a variety of media, including poetry, visual arts related to words, broadsides, artists books, chap books and more.  Walking into the gallery space, the visitor confronts a wide array of interpretations  on the broadly presented theme: Words dangle from the ceiling on strands of orange yarn, poems adorn the walls, a typewriter waits idylly for an inspired wordsmith. 

Integral to the opening event were poetry readings  held every half hour throughout the evening. Visitors were offered the opportunity to stand up in front of the “wall of words” and be heard by all. 

“What does language look like? What does voice convey?  These questions are being explored here,” said co-curator Jill Gardner, who worked with artist Nickki Lee Hill to put the show together.

“Our intention here is to inspire a dialogue of discovery and to play with words,” said Gardner, who sees the installation as something to be savored.

“All who enter the space are invited to participate in a number of fun and wordy exhibits, such as ‘dictionary diving’ and ‘post-it commentary,’” she added, stressing the interactive nature of the exhibit.

Events related to the show include a  “poetry poker” game at the gallery on Saturday March 28 at 5 p.m. with an open mic to follow.   

In addition, Liberty Arts has an online blog that is part of the exhibit, taking it to the cyber level. The blog address  is: http://lacommunityforum.blogspot.com.

“Make time to see this show more than once,” advised Gardner, who said that given the abundance of material on display, full appreciation of the show requires some time. 

Also instrumental to the exhibit were installation crew members Kim Presley, Tatiana Diakoff, Rajiv, Monica Zinda, Collette Urquhart, Jon Rife, Candace Miller and Lauri Sturdivant. 

Liberty Arts Gallery is located at 108 W. Miner St. Yreka.  Gallery hours are Monday-Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Visit www.libertyartsyreka.org or call the gallery 842-0222 for more details.