Once again, I have participated in SPARK (The web project that pairs artists and writers for mutual inspiration). With just 10 days to create original art inspired by a piece of work from their randomly assigned partners, the project forces participants to work outside their comfort zones and to work quickly.
My start point this time around was the poem “In This Kitchen” by writer Cynthia Grady. The poem evokes the feeling of a warm active kitchen, and in particular, revolves around the baking of bread. It started me thinking about the emotional associations of bread, especially that fresh-baked smell that real estate agents believe helps sell houses, which evokes warm comforting feelings and a sense of well being.
The vision in my mind’s eye was a simple image that focused just on the bread itself – obviously warm and fresh from the oven. I wanted to keep the picture clean and uncluttered – a geometric division of space between bread and air, with the essence of the bread moving into the air.
Here’s the image and the poem (linked to the SPARK site):
In This Kitchen
By Cynthia Grady
The kitchen is where
my ambitions stir. Hopes
rise like bread dough
atop the fridge
in cornered warmth
(punch it down,
it doubles in size).
Tomatoes on the sill
ripen into dreams.
In the morning’s glow,
echoes of my father’s voice
swirl like flour dust.
His ghost rests on the stool
sifting, sifting, sifting,
the morning light shifting.
Here in this kitchen,
soups never lack spice.
Neither bakers nor poets go mad.
Here, poems feed the world.
Here’s where I’ll let you into a secret (SPOILER ALERT: Don’t read this bit if you just want to enjoy the image for what it is): hot bread photographs exactly the same as cold bread! Try it! I needed a way to make it look warm. The answer? Add steam! Because the bread wouldn’t do it by itself, my approach was to photograph the steam separately using a bread “stunt-double” made from a rolling pin wrapped in kitchen towel(!). I cooled the room by opening the windows, and soaked my bread substitute in hot water. Then, using the focused light from a flash, I froze the curls and shapes of the rising steam. Of my many steam shots (often quite beautiful) I chose this one to add warmth and vitality to my loaf.
At the same time, I provided this image as an inspiration for Cynthia. She created the beautiful poem “Lingering Light” in response, below.
By Cynthia Grady
I remember the sun-baked warmth of an afternoon,
where no birdsong could be heard,
not a winged-creature buzzed,
I stood becalmed, relaxed, redeemed
Inside a honeyed silence.
Sunlight, like snowfall and love, transforms everything it touches.
I want the steadiness of the sun,
to look long enough to recognize everyone I meet.
I want the radiance of the sun,
to shine brightly enough to love everyone I know.
I want the sun’s flaming reach, the sun’s restorative ways.
I want to wrap a shawl of lacy shadows
around the shoulders of any stony façade.
I want the love that lingering light leaves with us.
Poets, have your moons– I want the sun.
You can find more about Cynthia and her work here.