January 30 – May 23, 2015
Curated by Brian E. Butler and Rachael Inch
Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center celebrates our ReOPENING with special exhibition of work by Susan Weil. The Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center in downtown Asheville presents the new exhibition poemumbles: 30 years of Susan Weil’s poem/images from January 30 – May 23, 2015 with a free opening reception on Friday, January 30 from 5:30 – 8:00pm. There will be a gallery talk by Susan Weil’s studio assistant and exhibition co-curator Rachael Inch at 7:00pm during the opening reception. The exhibition opening coincides with the Grand {Re}Opening of our renovated and redesigned museum at 56 Broadway in downtown Asheville.

Susan Weil is a painter, printmaker and book artist living in New York City. She studied at Académie Julian in Paris before enrolling at Black Mountain College in 1948 and then later at the Art Students League in New York. Weil is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. Her work is included in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; the National Museum, Stockholm; Helsinki City Art Museum; and Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid. In 2011, the distinguished fine-art publisher Skira released Susan Weil, Moving Pictures, a 142-page monograph on the artist’s large and diverse body of work, with an emphasis on her paintings of the last two decades. It includes scholarly essays on her life and work by noted critics Dore Ashton, David Weir, and Olle Granath. Copies of this book will be for sale.

Susan Weil, April 23, 2000, collage, 11 x 8.5”. Courtesy of the Artist.Susan Weil’s poemumbles are a unique form of poetic expression that explore the limitless potential and fluidity of her thoughts in visual and verbal form. Weil has always had an affinity for words. Ever since her father Leonard read Chaucer and Joyce to her as a child, words have given Weil a unique way of looking at the world. When Susan met her Swedish dealer Anders Tornberg in 1977, she began sending him poems and accompanying images. Over the course of the next six years, Weil sent some 5,000 poemumbles to Anders in Lund, Sweden, from high on the 18th floor of her Chinatown apartment.

On May 11th, 1984, Anders received a poem, a delicate watercolor cup of coffee, and a note declaring Weil’s intention to write and send to Anders a daily poemumble. By 1986 Susan was making three versions of her poemumbles, one large version for her notebooks, and postcard sized versions for Anders, and for her dear friend and publisher of livres d’artiste, Vincent FitzGerald.

Today, 30 years and over 10,930 poemumbles later, Weil has stayed true to her intention. No subject is too small or grand for a poemumble. One day Weil might elucidate the experience of seeing a painting, form a play on words, evoke a distant memory or dreamscape, whisper murmurs of the sea, or the pull of the moon. The poemumbles have also been place for Weil to weave her thoughts and images with past creative masters. Da Vinci, Botticelli, Rumi, Picasso, Henrik Ibsen, Gertrude Stein, ‘Papa Matisse’ as Susan fondly calls him, and her lifelong inspiration and creative co-collaborator ‘Jimmy Joy,’ James Joyce have all made guest appearances in Weil’s poemumbles.

Earlier poemumbles of delicate pencil drawings and watercolors, rubber stamped with the date, evolved into collages of magazine images and textual snippets. As Weil’s studio work has changed so too have the poemumbles. Today, Weil incorporates found images from the vast trove of the Internet into her daily poems, and has made several plexi-glass works inspired by earlier poemumbles.

The exhibition includes over 60 of Weil’s poemumbles made between 1984 and 2014. Additionally, several of her notebooks will be on display to provide a deeper look into her artistic process.

This project receives support from: the North Carolina Arts Council, a division of the Department of Cultural Resources, with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, through the Asheville Area Arts Council; UNC Asheville Howerton Distinguished Professor in the Humanities.

Image Citation: Susan Weil, April 23, 2000, collage, 11 x 8.5 inches. Courtesy of the Artist.