Lyrical Quires



The Quatrain Project

In the literary world, a quatrain is limited to four-line stanzas of any kind; rhymed, metered, or otherwise. These constructions honor the quatrain with a four-image sequence that’s designed as a fusion of symbols to convey metaphor and idea. They also support teaching visual literacy.

I began this body of work several years after graduate school, with Apple in the field, Adobe in the studio, and Google blog on the Internet. I made a rule to blog post one quatrain per week for sixteen consecutive weeks. The workflow enabled my intuition to post-visualize several possible aesthetic and visual relationships from randomly found places, objects, and lyrical moments of everyday life.

Over subsequent years the Quatrain Project took on a life of its own, and now there are forty that align with its original set of rules. In the blog, each construction is accompanied with a short, written narrative to articulate intent and some context. However, when displayed in a web gallery and in print exhibits then a statement such as this, series number, and image title are the only clues offered. Seen solely as a print, viewers are invited to form their own meaning. When reduced to a humble, literal bookmark, then all sorts of meta relationships can be discovered.

This personal project intersects with my professional life as a teacher. When presented to students in all the aforementioned media, facets of my creative process are revealed, principles of design and image sequencing for portfolio development are pointed out, and visual literacy concepts are cited. Teaching visual literacy with photography is a career-spanning ethos and core topic of my M.A. thesis. And from that essay, a question persists. Can an average viewer understand the logos and pathos of a quatrain? I want to bring awareness and value to visual literacy, so that the many forms of traditional and digital media arts become standard markers of social and academic success.

What students discover in the process of creating and understanding visual art is that it’s multi-dimensional, as it involves references to history, semiotics, and psychology, let alone serving as a product and reflection of time and place.

A book featuring the Quatrain Project is currently in production.

Don Werthmann

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