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Artists hope to ‘inspire’ poems through their work

WESTFIELD-Six artists are hopeful that their works of art on display this month at downtown businesses will inspire area residents to create a poem during the Images & Words Poetry Contest.

“Artists are constantly asked to write a statement to explain their work,” said Ellen Westerlind, whose acrylic work “Rooted in Myth” will be on display at Circuit Coffee. “For this event the viewer will be providing the statement in the form of a poem. Art inspiring art is a very cool concept.”

Now in its second year, the contest is organized by ArtWorks Westfield to celebrate National Poetry Month in April. The Westfield Poetry Trail initiative is made possible in part by the generosity of host merchants, a grant from the Westfield Cultural Council and Mass Cultural Council, and ArtWorks members.

Artist Susan Buffum’s pen and ink work titled “Raucous Raven” will be displayed this month at Blue Umbrella Books as part of the Images & Words Poetry Contest. (Submitted photo)

“Last year was a great success and lots of fun,” said Bill Westerlind, president of ArtWorks Westfield. “Artists have the opportunity to show their work. Community members get to experience some really cool art and write poetry.”
Westerlind added that ArtWorks Westfield members saw a unique opportunity with this event since there are limited avenues to publicly share poetry.

“The host merchants get to show their support for cultural activities in the city and attract some incremental traffic to their shops,” said Westerlind. “Everyone wins!”

Jessica Martin, owner of Blue Umbrella Books, echoed those sentiments.

“I’ll start with one word – inspiration,” said Martin. “The contest gives local creatives a place to display their projects which they may not normally have the opportunity to do. This inspires them to create for the occasion and maybe inspires someone to create something of their own. It inspires people to come out and see what’s happening around town, it sparks conversation and may even inspire someone to become a new customer to one of our fabulous small businesses in Westfield.”

Susan Buffum, a local author and artist, will be displaying her pen and ink artwork titled “Raucous Raven” at Blue Umbrella Books.

“I hope to be able to inspire others with a piece of my art, Raucous Raven, to write a poem about what they see in the artwork, or how it makes them feel,” said Buffum, adding, “I’m curious to hear the winning poem.”

Artist Shannon Chiba, whose acrylic work titled “The Kayaker” will be on display at Two Rivers Burrito Co., echoed those sentiments.

“Art can take many forms, and merging visual art with poetry is a beautiful combination; people can experience art and create it at the same time,” said Chiba. “The poetry trail is also an interactive experience that showcases local merchants – all within walking distance.”

Wayne Weatherwax, an “occasional artist” and ArtWorks board member, said his acrylic pour painting entitled “The Beach” is in part based on his 21 years in the United States Navy where he saw the seas and oceans daily. His work will be displayed at Budsuds Soapery.

“I hope the painting inspires poets to reflect upon the waters of our world and their importance to all of us,” said Weatherwax.

Artists who are also participating in the poetry contest are Ashley Read whose acrylic work titled “Empty” will be displayed at Vivid Salon & Spa, and Thomas Rickis will display his stylized photography titled “Motif No 1” at Blended Vintage Marketplace.

Poetry entries should be dropped off at the location of each piece of artwork. The final day to submit entries is April 30. The art work on display will be for sale.

“The artists who created each individual piece of art will select the winning poem and the author of that poem will win a $25 gift card from the location hosting the art work,” said Bill Westerlind, adding that winners will be notified by May 11 and an artist and poet reception will be conducted later in May.

Contest rules note that all entries must be original and unpublished, and each unique poetry entry can be submitted only once during the contest. 

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