Laura Bell, a painter based in NYC, and Ian Ganassi, a poet living in New Haven, met as artists in residence at the Millay Colony for the Arts. In 2005, they began the collaboration that resulted in the ongoing series “The Corpses,” a group of collages that started with a half-finished poem and hand-scrawled phrases on a piece of printer paper stained with coffee rings that Ganassi mailed to Bell. With each mailing, words and images were added and additional pieces were begun; at any point, either of them could declare a piece finished. (The concept is a variation on the Surrealist exquisite corpse.) Although at first it was assumed that Ganassi would contribute text and Bell visuals, this division soon dissolved.
The gathering of materials has become a consuming habit: poems, drawings, ads, photos, and found objects are joined to paint, ink, crayon, charcoal, and pencil and attached with glue, staples, tape, thread—a visceral process, the anti-Photoshop. “The Corpses turned us into scavengers,” says Ganassi. “We ended up trying to get the whole world into them.”
Ian Ganassi’s poems have appeared in numerous literary magazines, including The Yale Review, Stand (England), Offcourse, and New American Writing. Ganassi’s poem “Blunt Trauma” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and his translations from Virgil’s Aeneid have appeared in New England Review. His book-length poetry collection, Mean Numbers, is forthcoming from China Grove Press in the fall. Ian lives in New Haven, Connecticut, where he is a writer, teacher, and percussionist.
Laura Bell’s work has been exhibited in New York City, Chicago, Provincetown, Philadelphia, Berlin, and elsewhere. She has been an artist-in-residence at the Millay Colony for the Arts and is a recipient of an Artists Space Grant. She lives in the Bronx and paints and makes Corpses in studios in the Bronx and Long Island City, Queens.
See their web site at www.thecorpses.com.