Sierra Foltz

At the Corner of Two Walls

April 3, 2021   /  

Name: Sierra Foltz
Major: English
Minor: Political Science
Advisor: Dr. Christopher Kang

T. S. Eliot said, “immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different. The good poet welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different than that from which it is torn.”Kenneth Goldsmith expresses a similar sentiment in the Introduction of his book Uncreative Writing:“faced with an unprecedented amount of available text, the problem is not needing to write more of it; instead, we must learn to negotiate the vast quantity that exists” (1). In my three-word poems, collage poems and in my pieces of short prose, I utilize text that already exists and manipulate it into a new form. I take text from those I admire, like Allen Ginsberg, Frank O’Hara, Terrance Hayes, Gertrude Stein, or even from my own notebooks and reimagine them in new contexts. Further, through exploring theories of linguistics and semiotics such as those of Ferdinand de Saussure and C.S. Pierce, Surrealist impulses of capturing the images of the unconscious, Dadaist impulses of exploring chance encounters between text and materials, and contemporary visual and conceptual artists who explore the intersection between text and image like Jenny Holzer, Cy Twombly, and Joseph Kosuth, increasingly challenging questions emerged. Centrally, my exploration led me to ask: How can utilizing existing works and theoretical knowledge produce work capable of challenging historical projects and reimagining the work language can do?

Sierra will be online to field comments on April 16:
noon-2pm EDT (PST 9-11am, Africa/Europe: early evening) and 4-6 pm EDT (PST 1-3pm, Africa/Europe: late evening)

35 thoughts on “At the Corner of Two Walls”

  1. Sierra, what an awesome project this is!!! This makes me want to shut my laptop and go make some collage poems myself. I think what you’ve explored here hits on a really important and uplifting take on creativity: that it’s not always about making something new but playing with and reinventing something else, breathing new life into something. That opens a lot of doors about what “originality” can be!

    I’m really struck by your visual/collage poems, especially the pieces with your own scribbles. They are so visually captivating! The colors! My favorite is the one with the colorful sticky notes (at 0:44 in the video you posted). Sooooo good. For pieces like this, did you collage together doodles you had already done, or did you find yourself making doodles in service of these pieces? I guess a more general question is: how did working on this project change the way you write/draw/create?

    Really good work, Sierra!! Peace!

    1. Samantha! Thank you so much for your comments! To answer your question, I mostly drew and created these pieces with some sort of artistic or theoretical question in mind. For the piece you mention specifically, I drew those completely in the dark (and I even selected my utensils in the dark), so I could remove my own conscious brain as much as possible from the creation process. I think that sort of gets to your final question because working on this project completely changed how I think about my process of writing, drawing, etc. Like you said, appropriating existing language takes some of the burden off of the individual – it’s not productive in any capacity to feel like if you sit down and put pen to paper it has to be something wholly original or new. Removing that pressure and also exploring ways of removing expectations of “final product” from the equation of creating made me think about writing and drawing as a more liberatory or simply just fun endeavor rather than a means to a pre-determined end. Thanks again!!!

  2. Hey Sie! I love that you use your own writing to create something new. So many layers! I think you’d really like Michal Ajvaz! Your work reminds me of his book, The Other City. You are so cool! See you at din din. 😉

  3. Congratulations Sierra and thank you for sharing these works! The visual pieces are striking. It has been great to work with you in EL this year and I wish you continued success.

  4. I loved this combination of visual works created from existing texts and original poetry. I’ve always enjoyed reading your work in class and it was so cool to see how all that work and effort has culminated into this project!

    1. Thanks so much, Sarah! That means a lot. I’ve loved reading your work, too, and I hope your year is going well!

  5. I love your pieces here, Sierra–so visually striking! Did your work on this project change the way you think about either creativity or originality? Congratulations and thank you for sharing your work!

    1. Thank you, Dr. Hayward! I discussed this a bit in my response to Samantha’s question above, but working on collage works and appropriating existing language certainly changed how I think about what it means to sit down and write. I think it’s impossible to deny that artists are influenced both explicitly and implicitly by the art they have consumed and by their experiences, so to take that idea of influence and make it so literal – literally working with the language of one’s influences – is to acknowledge and respect that. As I said to Samantha, it also takes the burden of “originality” off of the writer. I found the act of appropriating extraordinarily freeing, yet I do not feel that my work lacks originality or creativity. I was constantly imagining new ways to utilize text, new collisions of language and style. That is to say, I have a much broader perspective of all of the ways in which the artist can manipulate material in order to make something “new” even if the material is not.

  6. Congrats, Sierra! I’ve always been impressed by your work and the visual aspect adds another amazing layer.

  7. Sierra, your work inspires me to write and make art! I look forward to seeing all that you do. You have truly created something to be proud of – congratulations!

    1. Ella, thank you! I’m so glad we got to get to know each other a little more this year! Thanks so much.

    1. As usual, you’re Way Too Nice To Me. Thank you, Max! We still need to talk surrealist poetry…

  8. Very interesting and thought provoking Sierra. Happy that you shared your creativity!

  9. Sierra,
    What a cool juxtaposition of visual images and spoken word. You certainly challenge your audience to think, don’t you! Can’t wait to hear how next steps unroll for you. Been so great working with you this year.

    1. Thank you for your comments, Cathy! It’s interesting that you talk about my work challenging the audience to think, as I write in my critical introduction about that very thing. It certainly challenges an audience to encounter work that is formally unfamiliar, but I feel that that moment of pause makes for a productive tension. Thanks again, I have enjoyed working with you and getting to know you this year!

  10. Wow! Congratulations! So dense, so understandably ununderstandable, almost within grasp, thank you for sharing your work.

  11. Congratulations Sierra!! I am so excited to see all the wonderful things you continue to create.

    The visual work at 0:43 really struck me and Naropa University is lucky to have you

  12. Sierra, I really, really enjoyed listening to your spoken word compositions and looking at your collage work! I think the framework of producing art in the context of overabundance rather than ex nihilo is super interesting, and I’m looking forward to diving into your IS a bit more soon.

    Congratulations on this collection of projects – I’m so excited to see your future work!

    1. Thanks for your comments, Dr. Simpson! It’s funny that we kind of just talked about this in Critical Theory last night!

  13. So good to see this work, getting at the root of what language provokes in us–and of course, looking forward to seeing what you’ll work on at Naropa as well. Congrats!

  14. Heavy, Sierra!
    As both a collage maker (ricbodhran7 on Tumblr) and satirical poet ( I appreciate and am very impressed with both your words and your collage/word combinations. Well Done!

    Rick Rider
    COW English Major, ‘ 72

  15. Really interesting research Sierra, congratulations! Best of luck in your post-grad life!

  16. It’s so wonderful to know someone as a person, and then get the opportunity to see the passion in their academic research. Fantastic work Sierra! I’m so exited to hear about what you accomplish in future 🙂

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