One of our favorite artistic voices in Charlotte is that of Amy Bagwell. We use “voice” to describe Amy’s work because she uses words and poetry as a the glue to form a bond between literary and visual arts. She says on her website, “Poetry is meant to be seen as much as it is meant to be heard, & access to it is too limited.” Amy has begun to make poetry and art more accessible to the public through Wall Poems of Charlotte, which you have likely seen and enjoyed around uptown. Read on to learn more about the lovely and honest artist behind the eloquent words.
HappeningsCLT: Describe yourself in three words.
Amy Bagwell: Can I cuss?
HCLT: When did you realize you were an artist?
HCLT: Who or what inspires you artistically?
AB: I don’t think you’re asking who my favorite artists are, so this is going to be abstract. Most of all, effort inspires me, especially when motivated purely (I have to make this, or this needs to be made). Energy emanating from a piece inspires me. Authority inspires me, the sense in a work of art that everything is exactly where it should be. It’s hard to define and impossible to manufacture, but we all know it when we encounter it. And when I just need propelling, I play The Clash or watch Buffy episodes.
HCLT: Tell us about your current body of work?
AB: After making assemblages for the past several years, I started on collages in the fall. It’s all still poem-centered, but the collages have taken me away from the idea that each poem goes in only one environment. Sparring visually with one poem simultaneously nine different ways, as I just did, was exhausting, exciting, and almost too rabbit-hole-in-my-own-mind. Because of that, it’s the closest thing to succeeding I’ve done.
HCLT: What do you think is the most valuable art experience in the Carolinas right now?
AB: I’m excited about multi-arts events. We have all these incredible minds in Charlotte working in different areas, and it’s crazy to keep them sequestered. It’s like that old idea that you can like sports or you can like art, but not both. Or that if you like jazz and poetry, you can’t like basketball. Fuck you if you think that.
For instance, the McColl Center and Jeff Jackson have started a series of avant garde nights; Brent’s programming the music inside the main art exhibit, and I think they’re working on film and theater, too. We’re throwing another Sprawl in March at Snug Harbor with writers from Chicago indie publisher Curbside Splendor and musicians from here and Athens. And Andy Fenstermaker’s planning an Alien/ Native month-long art and music masterwork in April at 22, Artspace 525, Snug Harbor, and more.
HCLT: Best meal in the Carolinas?
AB: Lang Van!
HCLT: What book is on your nightstand right now?
AB: Always, there’s a book of Joseph Cornell’s art and a book of Frank O’Hara’s poems. And I’m reading Elizabeth McCracken’s Thundertruck story collection now. Too slowly. She’s brilliant.
HCLT: What is up next?