Fri 2/7 @6PM
A surrealist by nature, multimedia artist Jessie Herzfeld has long been fascinated with the imaginative works and dramatic life of storied French poet Arthur Rimbaud.
For the better part of the last decade the Shaker Heights native and Lakewood resident has been working on a Rimbaud-inspired projects celebrating his collection of prose poetry Illuminations.
“I first read his work when I was in high school,” said Herzfeld, 35, a 2003 graduate of Shaker Heights High School. “It really kind of stuck with me, and then I discovered Illuminations right before I went off to London to grad school in 2015.
“At that point I was about to visit some of the places he lived in Europe — where he wrote — and really immersed myself in this project. The work really inspires me. I guess part of what holds my interest is, unlike illustrating a conventional story, I’m not drawing the same things over and over again. Each poem is sort of a whole new fantastical world.”
While working on the collection for years, Herzfeld said she’s finally ready for her debut exhibit, Illuminations and Visions, which appears February 7- March 7 at Art on Madison in Lakewood. An opening reception is booked for 6-9pm February 7 at the Madison Avenue gallery.
The show features a series of magical, one-of-a-kind works inspired by Rimbaud’s poetry with each piece drawing upon imagery and symbolism to engineer ethereal, dreamlike worlds swelling with enchanting characters, otherworldly creatures and unusual landscapes.
Herzfeld incorporates oil paint, watercolor, charcoal, markers, colored pencils and photography in remarkably detailed collages bursting with life, color and symbolism.
“It’s a visual adaptation of Rimbaud’s Illuminations,” Herzfeld said. “My intention is sort of to expand the symbolism in the poems while still incorporating the text as a visual element within it. I really want to sort of force people to interact with the poems in a new way by using the visual medium.”
Also on display at Illuminations and Visions will be her portrait of Rimbaud, as well as a piece designed as a possible alternate book cover for Cleveland author Nico Walker’s best-selling novel Cherry.
While a debut exhibit was something she thought about over the years, Herzfeld didn’t want to rush the process at risk of self-aggrandizement.
“I guess I thought of it more in terms of producing artwork that I’m satisfied with, but then once I accomplished that I really wanted to share it,” Herzfeld said. “So it took a while before I felt ready to have a show like this. It’s very exciting, especially to be back home where I can share with friends and family.”