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The Process & Bios

Notes on "eartland"
Lynne Shapiro & Cliff Tisdell

Cliff Tisdell

Initially, Lynne Shapiro cleverly introduced the theme of “accidents” to try to build some initial common ground, as she knows we share the element of chance in our work.

She sees very deeply into one's (not just mine) visual art. She responds to visual language on a very intense level and often sees deep into the artist's sensibility.

I had just finished a mixed-media relief sculpture called Astral Land, which Lynne liked (a photo of the sculpture is online at clifftisdellart.com). Most interestingly, she read a stylized wooden female figure that appears in a yellow field as a women with a suitcase. It was a marvelous insight and it really made me want to explore that theme.

So, in addition to a comic strip I gave to Lynne based on figures and suitcases, I put together a montage from elements of Astral Land, including letters created from a 48 year old tin sign my father made. In addition, I added a conductor character Lynne invented in the foreground.

Lynne's accompanying poem - eartland, includes thoughts and words that somehow get into the very structure of abstract art and the process of working together. Lynne's “sculpted words” are a balance in both composition and texture.


Lynne Shapiro

Never having been on a team or in a rock band, I've always wanted to collaborate - on something.

BluePrintReview‘s call for collaborative submissions gave me a reason to nudge my friend Cliff Tisdell, whose paintings I love to explore/ discuss, into partnering with me.

The poem I created is not so much influenced by a single work of Cliff's as it is almost a translation of my experience looking at a body of his work and channeling his working method.

My poem, eartland, is abstract because it is about abstraction. I was not constrained by the need to convey a particular meaning or making sense. I trust that the meaning that's there on the page (and which I am still discovering) is enhanced by each other's work – the very reason I wanted to collaborate. In his film, Rivers and Tides, the artist Andy Goldsworthy explains how the ocean “made more of his work than he ever could”. That's how I feel about our two art forms coming together in this piece.

The alliteration and rhythm of my poem, I now realize, mirrors the playful back and forth between us - almost like taking turns at checkers or some other game -as Cliff and I gently tried to find a way to work together.

The second half of the poem, when the alliteration falls away, feels as I felt when I broke through my egg-shell walk to find my own voice within the collaboration.



Cliff Tisdell's art has appeared around the U.S., most recently at the OK Harris Gallery in Manhattan and the Chautauqua Institute in Chautauqua, New York.

He graduated from Rutgers University and attended classes at the School of Visual Arts, Parsons School of Design, the Arts Students League and NYU.

Mr. Tisdell lives in Hoboken, New Jersey with his wife, Robin Wolfson and their 12 year old son Jack.


Lynne Shapiro's poems and essays have been published in the United States and Europe. Her work has been included in Eating Her Wedding Dress: A Collection of Clothing Poems (Ragged Sky Press), Decomposition: An Anthology of Fungi Inspired Poems (Lost Horse Press) and Pain and Memory (Editions Bibliotekos). She was nominated for a pushcart prize in 2009.

She earned an MA in Comparative Literature from Brandeis University, where she studied the history of little magazines between the wars, focusing on the relationship between image and word in the 20th century. She worked for a decade at the Whitney Museum of American art and other museums, and taught interdisciplinary classes at Parsons School of Design/ The New School before turning her attention to writing.

She lives in Hoboken, NJ with her husband.


back to the collaboration


. .BluePrintReview - issue 27 - Synergetic Transformations