Caroline Bagenal


Pine and black paint


Artist's Statement
This sculpture is a tribute to the poet e.e. cummings, whose gravesite is nearby. The complex union of the visual and aural in cummings’ poetry, his strong sense of design and unconventional use of typography, and his playful placement of words across the page all suggested a sculptural interpretation to me. I was interested in transforming the poems into objects that engage us physically as we move around them. Through this sculpture, I sought to transpose the horizontal breaks and distinctive rhythms of his poetry into three dimensions.

I was also curious to see in what ways an outdoor context would enrich how we read his poems. cummings’ poetry often celebrates an intense encounter with nature. In the setting of Forest Hills, viewers can connect with the beauty and spirit of nature while actively exploring and reading the poems. By placing these poems in this setting I hope to generate a dialogue between word and object, image and reality. I hope the poet would approve.

My first piece at Forest Hills, Skyboats, was a small fleet of translucent boats suspended in a grove of pines. It grew out of earlier work using boats. In the context provided by the cemetery, the group of vessels sailing through trees gained new meanings. In contrast, this year’s sculpture was inspired by the particular environment of Forest Hills. It celebrates the life and work of a person who is buried here. The sculpture also responds to the physical layout of Forest Hills, the maze-like network of roads and paths that make it almost impossible to find e.e. cummings’ grave. It offers a kind of visual pathway guiding visitors to the poet’s grave.


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