Art museum hosts interactive poetry reading

Nolan Krebs

The DeVos Art Museum will be holding a poetry reading and open mic hosted by poet and author Andrea Scarpino on Thursday, Nov. 8.

Scarpino is the creative dissertation coordinator at Union Institute and University and a weekly contributor to the blog “Planet of the Blind.”

For the reading at the DeVos, Scarpino will be reading selections based on visual art.

“The reading actually came about because of the ‘You Complete Me’ exhibit,” Scarpino said. “I was telling [museum director Melissa Matuscak] that I had so many poems that were inspired by visual art, whether through an artist like Picasso or just through photographs.”

According to Matuscak, the interactive theme of the “You Complete Me” exhibit was a perfect fit for Scarpino’s work.

“The idea that you have to have some sort of interaction from others in order to complete your work goes along with a lot of her themes,” Matuscak said. “[The reading] is something we’ve never done before, but especially with this exhibit we’re trying to incorporate other forms of art, such as performance art, into the museum.”

“You Complete Me: Mediating Relationships in Contemporary Art,” which will be featured at the DeVos through Sunday, Nov. 11, is an exhibit that utilizes participatory art. According to Matuscak, the exhibit is unique because the audience is encouraged to alter some of the pieces.

Writing poems based on other pieces creates a sense of one form of art completing another, Scarpino said, which she feels was a great connection to the current exhibit at the DeVos. She will also be reading found poems, which take existing text or speech and rework it in an original way.

“I have a series of poems that I wrote from eavesdropping [laughs],” Scarpino said. “I compiled them based on conversations that I overheard, which again I think ties into the ‘You Complete Me’ theme because you’re finding art in the world and changing it in your own way.”

Scarpino’s experiences with poetry began at a very early age, before she learned to write.

“I have these memories of my mom typing poems on the typewriter for me,” Scarpino said. “It wasn’t until college that I started taking creative writing classes more seriously and decided that it was something I wanted to do.”

After completing her undergraduate degree, Scarpino spent time teaching English as a Second Language in France, an experience she said contributed to both the way she writes and thinks.

“It was one of the best decisions I’ve made,” Scarpino said. “Working in another language shifts the way that you see yourself as a writer and a thinker. It definitely helped me pay more attention to words and some of the complexities of language that I took for granted.”

Scarpino has a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Ohio State University, where she has worked as an instructor.

She has also taught at California State University-Dominguez Hills and the Institute for Reading Development.

The reading, which will be followed by the open mic, will take place from 7 to 8 p.m. in the DeVos Art Museum and is free to the public.

“It’s a chance for students to see an accomplished author and poet read her work, and it builds on the interactive elements of the museum right now,” Matuscak said.

For more information on the event, call the DeVos Art Museum at (906) 227-2235.