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Mary Rufle: Erasures
In conjunction with Observable Readings, Saint Louis Poetry Center presents Mary Ruefle: Erasures. Widely recognized as a major figure in American poetry, this is Mary Ruefle’s first solo exhibition of her visual work.
Beginning in 1998 and continuing as part of her ongoing work, Vermont State Poet Laureate Mary Ruefle has produced a series of altered books from which she creates poetic texts in a process called “erasure,” which Ruefle has defined as an act of “creating a new text by disappearing the old text that surrounds it.” Using correction fluid, markers, and gouache, and often incorporating collaged found images, the original texts are partially covered over to reveal new and surprising voices, phrases, narratives, and fragmented poems.
As part of this exhibition, Ruefle’s postcard collages, altered books, and erasures blend images and text, creating new poetic artifacts that establish a counterpoint between verbal and visual syntax. Her work extends the Modernist project that includes the collage artists Hannah Hoch, Joseph Cornell, and Alexander Rodchenko. Publishers Weekly, in a starred review, described Ruefle’s book of erasures, A Little White Shadow, as containing, “haiku-like mini-fables, sideways aphorisms, and hauntingly perplexing koans.”
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Poet, writer, essayist, and visual artist, Mary Ruefle is the author of over a dozen books of poems, essays, and short fiction, including Dunce (2019), which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the 2020 Pulitzer Prize, My Private Property (2016), Indeed I Was Pleased with the World (2007), and The Adamant (1989), which won the Iowa Poetry Prize. She is also the author of the essay collection Madness, Rack, and Honey (2012), the work of fiction The Most of It (2008), and A Little White Shadow (2006), a book of erasures. A full-color facsimile of her erasure An Incarnation of the Now was published in a limited edition by See Double Press.
A graduate of Bennington College, where she studied literature, and a resident of Bennington, Vermont, Ruefle is the recipient of numerous honors, including an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and a Whiting Award.
Erasures is co-curated by Erin McKenny (Bennington College) and poet Mark Wunderlich (Bennington College) and organized by Saint Louis Poetry Center. It is presented with generous support from the Kranzberg Arts Foundation. Major support is provided by the Poetry Foundation. Additional funding is provided by the Missouri Humanities Council, a state agency. The exhibition and related events are co-sponsored by the Robert Frost Stone House Museum at Bennington College. Special thanks to Dana Levin.
Mary Ruefle, “Arlo,” 4 ½ x 6 ⅞ x 1 x 2 inches (image courtesy of the Robert Frost Stone House Museum)