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  • Writer's pictureSarah Taylor Ko

Out of Sight

Part of a series of 5 paintings based on the poetry of Miho Nonaka from her book The Museum of Small Bones, this is the only one whose title isn’t derived directly from the poem on which it is based, Roommates.

In the early stages of working I collaged a photo of a mousetrap that said “out of sight.” I ended up painting over it but I thought it connected so well with the poem, which is about feeling misunderstood, unnoticed, and unimportant, that I made it the title. I played with this idea visually by obscuring images, drawing over parts of the painting, and tearing out some elements. Out of Sight also refers to the invisible aspects of memory.

I preserved the damaged and raw torn paper edges in this painting because I felt it reflected the pained spirit of the poem in contrast to the multitude of colorful imagery including goldfish, mice, swallowtail butterflies, elliptical orbits, and blue and red M&M's. I imagined these as representing the idiosyncratic and resilient inner life of the poet.

At one point in the poem while the author is scrubbing a pot or setting a mousetrap one of the rude roommates inexplicably blurts out, "Deal with it." It was such an aggressive statement that I was compelled to include it (along with an orange letter "L" from Wheaton's alumni magazine where Dr. Nonaka teaches English.) It visually relates to the goldfish and other stray marks in the painting but like the statement itself is out of context. I liked the ransom note quality of the cut out letters.

My intent was to recreate the painful beauty of the poem through visual media including the mysterious details that become indelible parts of our secret memories.

P.S. I included some Japanese calligraphy, but I don't know what it means, so if my bi-lingual friends from Japan are reading this, help a girl out and let us know in the comments!

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