3 Questions for Lorraine Schechter

1. What is your personal/aesthetic relationship to the line? (Could be poetry, drawing, or both) That is, how do you understand it, use it, etc.

Mark. Line. Shape. From my earliest drawings as a child, I loved making big, loopy, circular lines…lines which filled the page and which I filled in with a rainbow of color. I fell in love with Calder’s wire sculptures—lines drawn in air—and Matisse’s line drawings: three or four lines and a face or body was full-fleshed. I wanted to do that too!

I spent years drawing with line (contour drawing, it was called) when I worked from life. Joined lines describing very specific shapes came later. Later still as my work became more gestural, calligraphic marks evolved into actual words. Line: both a basic design element and a significant, emotional narrator.

Word. Line. Phrase. Line in my poems comes from breath…the music of the word…the spaces in between.

2. Do you find a relationship between words and writing/art and the human body? Or between your writing/art and your body?

When I taught art, I’d invite my students to explore how their shoulder, arm, hands and fingers affected the marks and lines they could make. We did a series of exercises investigating the affect of tension in the body, and how this tension affected their capacity to move their body as they drew or painted…how deep feelings (anger, love, sorrow, joy) evoked different kinds of lines, marks and shapes which were readable by others.

My body is my vehicle for expression—how I physically engage with the space of a small drawing or painting is different than with a 7’ canvas. Whether I sit or stand affects the extent of my reach, my movement, and the expressiveness of my marks and brushstrokes.

Music. Sound. Silence. Part of the sensate body. Early on I worked with rock’n’roll as a background beat. Later, Philip Glass’ music was the sound matrix for my painting. For a long, long time I stopped having music as I worked, allowing my inner music to guide movement and provide the emotional framework for my painting. These days, Bach holds center stage. I’m continually surprised by his inventiveness; the pure beauty of his music is so compelling I stop what I’m doing and listen.

Writing. Hand writing is how poems are made. As in drawing, the immediacy and freshness of the hand, body, mind/heart connection is essential.

3. Is there anything you dislike about being an artist/poet?

I ‘m a maker. The ability and willingness to devote my life to art and poetry has been a gift and a blessing. Not easy. Not without sacrifices. Not without a certain sense of alienation from the mainstream. Not without an enormous amount of work/play. All of that has been an on-going lesson and wondrous.

Marketing my work—getting it out there—is less so.


Lorraine Schechter received her MFA in printmaking and painting from the University of Pennsylvania School of Design, where she was later given an Angell Post-Graduate fellowship in Graphics. She lived in the south of France and the hills of northwestern Connecticut where she was manager of the Alexander Calder home and studio before settling in Santa Fe in 1988.

An early innovator of three-dimensional cards, her designs were first published by MoMA/New York. She has had numerous exhibitions of her mixed media paintings, prints, and constructions, which are in museum, corporate and private collections.

Lorraine’s poems have appeared in a variety of poetry reviews and anthologies. She is a winner of the Recursos/Southwest Writers Discovery Contest. A collection of her poems, The Seasons of Yes: Poems and Images won the 2008 New Mexico Book Award in Poetry. The Songs of Yes, a musical composition by Lawrence Axelrod based on Lorraine’s poems was performed by CUBE Contemporary Chamber Ensemble in Chicago in June 2010. In January, 2011 she published a second collection of poems in her chapbook, A Thousand Wings Fluttering.

A teacher and arts administrator for forty years, Lorraine recently passed on leadership of the several arts programs she developed and directed to return full time to the studio. She is working on a new series of mixed media paintings called One Earth (see below). Her work can be seen at her website.

In praise of

the calligraphy of roots
the tight compression of energy
of a baseball, frayed
skin peeled back, revealing
its skeleton
compassion for the tenderness of paper,
the emptiness of space
for black, the collector of color

sacred geometry
sensuous, loping lines
circle in, circle out again
a square dance
a tango
mark becomes pattern
pattern becomes grid
image becomes metaphor

the edges permeable

the edge
between structure and chaos—
garden and wilderness

simply trust
don’t the leaves
flutter down
just like that?

Artwork by Lorraine Schechter above:

Aspen Vista/Fall 2010
Stormy Skies/Santa Fe, July 2010

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