Visual Art

Looking and Listening

writers, artists inspire each other in The Vision and the Word

Emily Albrent, photos by Andrea Paulseth |

The Vision and the Word exhibit, shown here in 2010, brings together visual artists and writers.
The Vision and the Word exhibit, shown here (and below) in 2010, brings
together visual artists and writers.

The visual and literary arts are often kept at arms length in the artistic world. Not so during The Vision and the Word, a major exhibit now in its fifth incarnation since 1997. Co-founder (and Chippewa Valley poet) Alan Jenkins said that the exhibit, sponsored again by the Eau Claire Regional Arts Center, has grown beyond the Chippewa Valley and includes artists from six Wisconsin counties as well as Minnesota and South Dakota.

The artists and poets involved are organized into voluntary teams of two (or in one special case, three). The pairs are diverse in age and experience as well as geography. The talent ranges from well-established – including best-selling author Mike Perry and Bush Artist Fellowship-winning visual artist Susan Sveda-Uncapher – to emerging leaders in art and poetry in our community.

“It is the poetry responding to the visual artist’s work, maybe not the work that will be in the show, but the visual artist’s body of work,” Jenkins said in describing the interplay at the heart of The Vision and the Word. In turn, he added, “The artist is responding to the poet’s work. What you are getting, in effect, is a conversation in art between the visual and the word.”

According to Jenkins, 38 collaborators are involved in this exhibit and all have an equal opportunity to present their work. “This is not about any individual,” he said. “This show is about the community, and it demonstrates the depth and the broad range of talent that the Chippewa Valley has to offer.”

The show runs Aug. 15-30 in the Janet Carson Gallery at the Eau Claire Regional Arts Center, 316 Eau Claire St. Special readings will be held Aug. 16, 18, 23, and 25 (see for a full schedule of writers and artists).

Jenkins said there is no better place than ECRAC to present the show: “Because we are talking about regional talent here,” he said, “the arts center is truly and should be the home of this shown and the growth of the arts center is a wonderful thing.”