Dolby Chadwick Gallery is pleased to announce Stay Inspired, a group exhibition on view from December 10 to January 30. The show is the outcome of a project of the same name, which initially began as a single email, sent in mid-March, when we were just starting to understand the scale of the pandemic’s impact on our lives and communities. In that email, Lisa Dolby Chadwick paired together two of the things she loves most—a painting and a poem—in an effort to “free up our thinking and stay creative and fluid.” This initial gesture of affirmation ultimately grew to include eighty-eight editions, sent out over the course of seven months.
Almost immediately, people from all over the world began responding—a spontaneous community celebrating the intersection of images and words. The project had struck a nerve. The pandemic may be reshaping our worlds in unprecedented ways, cutting us off from loved ones and leaving us feeling disoriented, but it does not have the power to destroy us or hijack our response to it. We must, as the poet Jack Gilbert writes in A Brief for the Defense, “risk delight” and “have the stubbornness to accept our gladness” in the face of sorrow and suffering; the messages we received demonstrated our remarkable ability to do just that.
The exhibition will feature work by each of the Dolby Chadwick Gallery artists who were paired as part of the Stay Inspired series. While the poetry pairings will not be integrated into the exhibition itself, they will appear in a gorgeous, fully illustrated hardcover coffee-table book titled Stay Inspired: Shelter in Place 2020, published on the occasion of the show. This volume presents an astounding selection of poetry. Voices included range from the thirteenth-century poet Rumi to former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins to recent Nobel Prize in Literature winner Louise Glück. For each book sold through January 30, 2021, 50% of the sales price will be donated to No Kid Hungry, which has been doing important work to feed families most in need during these trying times. The remaining balance funds the cost of production, processing fees, and permissions.
The poems and paintings were not meant to comment on or elucidate one another; rather, the pairings were chosen because they shared a similar sensitivity. If there is an underlying thread, it is aligned with Gilbert’s entreaty, itself beautifully evoked by poet Erik Campbell’s vision of a “group coup d’etat against states / Of sadness and regret, a revolution of gesture … insisting / Yes, this is the place; the very thing, / The good.”
Community lies at the heart of Stay Inspired. “Art and poetry,” says Lisa Dolby Chadwick, “are so deeply needed because they have always connected us as a community—to the artist, to each other, to our shared humanity.” Though the pandemic forced us into isolation from each other, it also forced us to slow down, pause, and recognize a kinder, gentler sense of self. “To me, this project has been a reminder of our profound connection with each other and a way to experience intimacy.”
This exhibition marks the end of a difficult year, granting us the space to look back on and celebrate all that we have accomplished together, albeit remotely. It awakens hope for the future and for our capacity to stay creative, connected, and inspired. Stay Inspired will be available to view by appointment.
Stay Inspired is currently available for pre-order and will be ready to ship during the month of December.
Please click below to preview a selection of digitized spreads from the book:
Pre-Order Stay Inspired