by Dr. Sherry-Ann Brown
Embracing joys and dealing with challenges in life, medicine, or science are universal experiences shared by individuals who find themselves in the roles of patients, caregivers, family members, friends, health professionals, teachers, scientists, or sometimes all of the above. Lyrical Mezzanine (LM) was born from a need to profoundly process responses to facing such social, medical, and scientific challenges, and to share the essence of those complex thought processes with others. LM also aims to nurture resilience or resiliency in clinicians, caregivers, patients, chaplains, family members, friends, scientists, teachers, and others, and to simultaneously combat burnout. A mezzanine is usually considered a level between two actual full floors in a building. LM displays are similarly on a level found somewhere between two or among three visual or fine art forms, exploring the limits of fine and visual art. LM finds itself situated between, and at the same time combining, these two or three forms of art: poetry, photography, and 3D art -intermingled with canvas artwork.
Each combined piece bears words, lines, images, of physical objects to increase the connection with the viewer, as the piece encourages them to consider each line or object in the concept of their reality. The exhibit therefore implies relationships among various physical objects woven together by the lines of each poem. Some items are attached to the wall for maximum visual impact all at once. Some items are affixed to the floor, unmovable, in the place where they would usually be used. Some items are loosely placed on stands, tables, or the floor to encourage hands-on tactile interaction with the viewer. Words on stickers are a major component of LM to represent/model the adhesive nature of words, concepts, or principles in our lives that stick around in our minds and memories, whether we want them to or not. One section of the work is based on a piece of prose that is expanded into a myriad of physical elements/features that compose an interactive garden.
As viewers adventure through the exhibit, they will see, read, feel, and touch fragments, features, and portions reminiscent of their own individual world that create conversation pieces for considering how various details in their lives and the lives of others matter. LM invites each patron to accumulate a unique experience by viewing oneself directly or someone one has known personally, met, or heard of in each piece, thereby experiencing the piece inevitably somewhat differently from previous viewers. Instead of telling viewers how to feel, the poems are written and the items are selected to evoke corresponding feelings and emotions.
This work juxtaposes written poetry with physical objects with which patrons can deeply relate. As the viewer might expect, the words of the poetry describe or provide a context in which one could or should view or interpret the physical objects. Simultaneously, the viewer also is offered the opportunity to view or interpret the words of each poem or prose in the context of the emotions, thoughts, or memories evoked by the physical objects. LM takes the words off the pages and helps them come alive three-dimensionally also as physical objects, and brings viewers into the poems literally as the exhibit surrounds them. The exhibit therefore culminates in a multidimensional, multifactorial, and multisensory encounter.