Art Feature: La Puerta Azul

Posted by on Jun 30, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments


La Puerta Azul by Alyssa Yankwitt

Alyssa Yankwitt is a poet, photographer, teacher, bartender, and earth walker. Her poems and photographs have previously appeared in Fruita Pulp, Gingerbread House, Penwheel.lit, Yellow Chair Review, Metaphor Magazine, Red Paint Hill’s Mother Is a Verb anthology, Houston and Nomadic Voices, Up the Staircase Quarterly, and Stone Highway Review. Alyssa has incurable wanderlust, enjoys drinking whiskey, hates writing about herself in third person, and loves a good disaster

Question 1. Tell us more about “La Puerta Azul.” What was it about this particular door that struck you? Is there a story behind this piece that you’d be open to sharing with our readers?

I took this photograph while on a pilgrimage in Spain, the Camino de Santiago. I was walking across Spain, with all my possessions strapped to my back, on a spiritual journey. I walked for 33 days straight, over 500 miles. During that time I took a lot of pictures and many were of doors. I’ve always likes taking pictures of doors, I think for their inherent symbolism, and of course the impact of that symbolism within my personal pilgrimage. But this door stood out to me. Honestly, I think the first thing I noticed was the color and my intrigue had to do with the fact that it matched my shirt (1 of 2 I had for the entire pilgrimage). Also, and I think it’s a bit difficult to tell from the image, but the door was actually quite small. I am only 4’10. So I thought: Hey, this is an Alyssa-sized door.

Question 2. You mention that you are a poet as well as a photographer. Do you find that these art forms relate, or speak to each other? Does poetry that you read or write influence your photography, or vice versa?

I absolutely find that these forms relate and speak to each other. While photographs essentially capture a moment, a good photograph also has a larger narrative, tells a story. Similarly, a poem may have a larger narrative, but also captures a moment. I think everything influences my art: images, poetry, language, traveling and place (or displacement), the whole world. I am always interested in the larger narrative behind any text. I want to know the moment, but I want to glimpse its ghosts, too.

Question 3. I’m always very impressed by what masterful photographers such as yourself are able to do with reality, and the lens through which you portray the world, highlighting things that others may never have noticed. Can you tell us about what goes into capturing just the right photo, and/or what the creative process for photography is like for you?

Well first, I don’t know that I would call my self “masterful.” I often refer to myself as a “sometimes photographer” or an “accidental photographer.” Even though I was taking pictures never until recently did I consider what I was doing photography. I thought of it more as documenting. As I mentioned earlier, my intrigue in a subject comes from the story it’s telling. That’s what I notice and that’s what makes me want to capture it.

Question 4. What things are absolutely necessary for you when you’re creating? Do you have an ideal creative space?

Inspiration and intrigue, in any shape or form. For years I’ve tried to schedule a regular time and place to write. But that never works for me. I resolved long ago that I just need to create when the mood strikes. Similarly when taking photos, when I see something I feel needs to be captured, I capture it.

Question 5. How has your photography evolved over time? What have been the most challenging obstacles to overcome in your work as an artist?

I’m not a trained photographer, but after years of documenting and taking pictures, as well as writing, I think my eye has evolved in terms of the way I see and experience images. I would like to think that I am able to visualize that larger narrative and express that through the photos I take. At least that’s what I strive to do. I think the most challenging obstacle is that exact realization and goal.

Question 6. Are you working on any projects currently that you’d like to share with our readers?

Right now I have a couple of manuscripts I’m revising. And I’m always trying to get more poems and photographs into the world. To see more of my work, you can visit my artist page here.

Question 7. If you could turn the entire world onto the brilliance of one artist or photographer, who would it be? Why is s/he so significant?

I couldn’t choose just one. I’m currently obsessed with Julia Xanthos. She captures these moments which are so delicate and intimate, I feel like a voyeur when I look at them. It’s almost uncomfortable, which I like. Also, many of her photos are framed—literally and metaphorically—by place (mostly NYC). I think it’s the intersection of people and places which really draw me to her photography. I’m never sure if I’m glimpsing the secrets of the people or of the city. Probably both.

Question 8. What’s the best book or poem you’ve read lately? Why was it so impactful?

Right now I’m chewing on Madeleine Beckman’s latest chapbook, No Road Map, No Brakes. There is so much palpable tension in her words. Reading one of Beckman’s poems feels like you’re eavesdropping on the conversation happening next to you, while stealing secret glances out of the corner of your eye.

Linsey Jayne is a wave-headed poet with a penchant for jazz who received her MFA in creative writing at Fairfield University. Her writing has been published in such publications as The Standard-Times, The Dartmouth-Westport Chronicle, and exactly.what. She has served as the chief poetry editor for Mason’s Road, as well as the student editor for the Bryant Literary Review and the opinion section editor of The Archway. Linsey is currently at work on her first collection of poetry, entitled Idle Jive.

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