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The Poetic Body: Poem Gloves

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The Poetic Body: Poem Gloves

Artist: Lesley Dill (American, born 1950)

Date: 1992
Medium: Lithograph, letterpress, collage and string on paper
Overall: 18 x 13in. (45.7 x 33cm)
Signed: Lower right (graphite): 'Lesley Dill '92'
Markings: Lower right: [blind stamp]
Inscribed: Lower left (graphite): '6/20' Poem on artwork: 'I felt my life with both my hands / To see if it was there-- I held my spirit to the glass, / To prove it possible-- I turned by being round and round / And paused at every pound / To ask the owner's name / For doubt, that I should know the sound I judged by features--jarred my hair-- I pushed my dimples be, and waited-- If they twinkled back-- Conviction might, of me-- I told myself, 'Take courage, Friend-- That--was a former time-- But we might learn to like the Heaven / As well as our Old Home!'
Credit Line: Museum Purchase
Object number: 93.13.2
Label Text
Lesley Dill’s work focuses on the body as a vessel for our spiritual selves. She found within Emily Dickinson’s poetry honest references to emotion and vulnerability that are compatible to her own interests. In this series, Dill inscribes a Dickinson poem onto a corresponding body part she created with delicate materials such as paper and copper foil. Dill’s goal is to resemble physical weightlessness and, simultaneously, to shield the figures from the harsh world that humans are exposed to and continue to create.

Charlotte Zee
Hamilton College Intern, summer 2016

Lesley Dill's four-print Poetic Body combines elements of Emily Dickinson's poetry with an appropriate part of the body. In Poem Eyes, for example, the text reads: "much madness is divinest sense to a discerning eye" and "much sense the starkest madness."

Dill has written, "I think of words, and especially the poems of Emily Dickinson (for their embodiment of psychological states of despair and euphoria as metaphors for being), as a kind of spiritual armor, an intervening skin between ourselves and the world. How nice to slip inside words, the meaning and shape of some emotion you're feeling, and go out into life."

© Lesley Dill