Inspired by the idea of threads and the connections between literature, people, poetry and life, Raisa Tolchinsky ’17 created a new exhibit that is currently on display in the Blue Gallery of the David Saul Smith Union. Curated by Julian Ehrlich ’17, co-president of the Bowdoin Art Society and the student curator for the Lamarche and Blue Galleries in Smith Union, the display showcases a collection of 25 poems connected by a web of strings. This is the first of many senior spotlight exhibits Ehrlich has planned for the year.

“I chose Raisa as the first artist I would feature in Smith Union because I know her to be a prolific and creative writer,” said Ehrlich. 

In this space, Tolchinsky decided to create a poetry zone, made tangible by the strings that define its boundaries.

 “I was looking to find a new way to present poetry in a public sphere … calling attention to where poetry can be found in everyday life, even in the mundane,” said Tolchinsky.

The threads that allowed Tolchinsky to construct this zone served to both define its boundaries and to hint at the common themes found among her poetry. Tolchinsky intentionally left these themes unsaid, however, leaving it up to the reader to discover what the common threads allude to. 

“There’s not one common thread, but each color means something to me. I purposefully didn’t put [a key] in the exhibit because I wanted people to go in with their own ideas, without a predetermined thread that they’re looking for,” said Tolchinsky.

For Tolchinsky, this new venture has been a learning experience and a release.  When planning for the exhibit, she first had to determine which of her poems contain recognizable connections and links to each other in the context of person, place and feeling. In recognizing and naming the emotions that frequently appear in her own writing, Tolchinsky said she experienced an emotional release.

“Poetry is a way to make sense of what is painful, what is difficult, a life being a life,” Tolchinsky said. “Those things will keep coming up. The nature of them changes, but I will always have things that I’m trying to understand.”

The exhibit will be on display through October 14.