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In 2012, Leila Philip and Garth Evans set out to challenge themselves as artists. Philip, an award-winning prose writer, wrote poems. Evans, an internationally renowned sculptor, made watercolors. Water Rising tells the story of this remarkable collaboration. Philip’s realist poems—about nature, beauty, love, and loss, set amongst Evans’ abstract, deeply hued, layered watercolors, create a book which is more than just a gorgeous read and a visual feast. What emerges in this book is a stunning and original collaboration, which, as Worcester Art Museum Director, Matthias Waschek, points out in his introduction, extends how we think about the relationship between painting and poetry.
As part of our Poetry for Art series, artcritical is honored to present three poems and watercolors from this collaboration. Water Rising is published by New Rivers Press, November 2015. For our sampling of this publication we have chosen the title poem, “Here” and “In the Drawing” with watercolors that appear in proximity to those poems on the printed page.
As Carter Ratcliff, the distinguished poet and art critic, writes of this collaboration:
Leila Philip’s poems are intricately accurate about the look and sound of natural things, the grand sweep of the seasons, and the elusively textured emotions that unite two people in a single enterprise. She is a particularly subtle kind of realist. Garth Evans, a non-figurative sculptor, is seen here as a watercolorist transposing the grand forms of his three-dimensional work to the flatness of paper. Her representations and his abstractions do not, at first glance, seem to have much to do with one another. With attentive reading and looking, however, we begin to perceive in his imagery intimations of specific things–qualities of light, shifting structures of space–and, in hers, openings onto vast, unnamable matters of hope and the flow of time. Each is as much an abstractionist or a realist as the other, and Water Rising joins their work in a magnificent unity.
Leila Philip, a regular contributor to artcritical, is the author of three previous books, including The Road Through Miyama (Random House 1989, Vintage 1991), for which she received the 1990/PEN Martha Albrand Special Citation for nonfiction, and the award-winning memoir A Family Place: A Hudson Valley Farm, Three Centuries, Five Wars, One Family (Viking 2001, Vintage 2002, SUNY 2009). Philip has received numerous awards for her writing, including from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, The National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Garth Evans is a British sculptor with an international reputation whose practice is central to the narrative of British sculpture. His work is included in major public collections, including: The Metropolitan Museum, Museum of Modern Art, NY, the Brooklyn Museum, Joseph H. Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Tate Gallery, Victoria and Albert Museum, the British Museum, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Australia, among many others. He is the head of sculpture at the New York Studio School.
Water Rising by Leila Philip and Garth Evans. New Rivers Press, $50.00 / Hardcover/60 pages. ISBN: 978-0-89823-336-0
To learn more about this collaboration and its environmental mission, please visit to www.water-rising.com