“The Shelter”: A Collaboration between poet Leonore Hildebrandt and painter Heidi Daub
The high tide of summer has passed now in the state of Maine, here on the Northeastern Atlantic shoreline. The collaborative project “The Shelter” with its themes of longing, personal agency, and the search for communion with the natural world, feels as current and exciting to me now, as the day when poet Leonore Hildebrandt and I first came together. Prior to this, the two of us did not know much of each other. Then we discovered that we had a lot in common: we both chose to live in a poor and remote part of Maine. We have raised daughters here. We grow food in our gardens. We play music and perform in various local ensembles. We volunteer in our communities, bringing the arts to schools, to libraries, and to fundraising events. Our creative work is both challenged and enriched by our many commitments; it is the center of the wheel from which everything else radiates.
I remember speaking with Leonore for the first time at an art opening featuring my work, and having a lovely conversation. She seemed to have an understanding of the thrust of my paintings, and was curious, looked deeper. She contacted me a couple years later, to inquire about collaborating for The Belfast Poetry Festival which has been happening yearly since 2005 every October in Belfast Maine, and features readings, workshops, and presentations of collaborations between visual artists and poets/ performance artists.
The call from Leonore sounded intriguing, and we plunged ahead with her looking through my website and choosing a group of paintings that spoke to her. The pieces she chose, without any input from me, were/are part of the same series and are almost sequential in executional time. I waited patiently to see what she would come up with and then she sent me her first draft.
I was in love.
I was honored.
Later Leonore described her work with the images: “I arranged a sequence of imaginary landscapes in which certain shapes, in particular that of a hut or tipi (the 'shelter'), reappear in different variations. The first images are calm, held almost in black and white, then emerge brilliant colors and movement. As I became immersed in Heidi's paintings, I began to hear a lyrical voice, which rather than describing the images, narrated from their specific moods. It is the voice of a woman ('I') who records bits of her life, sometimes addressing an absent ‘you.’ For me, the interplay of image and voice dramatizes a place both particular and timeless. Providing more than a setting, the land is form-giving. In this artistic space, we recognize how deeply human life is bonded to the natural world.”
During the conception of “The Shelter,” we grew as artists by immersing in each other’s medium. We listened flexibly and openly. The resulting work appealed to the live audience gathered at the 2013 Belfast Poetry Festival in part because it beautifully documents this coming together. Our hope is that the piece will engage both friends of fine art and of literature, and foster interaction between these communities.