Lori Zurvalec Poem Series

Lori Zurvalec is one of the two artists who currently have work on exhibition at Studio 23 for Sorrow & Hope.  This series of Poem Drawings are part of a group of drawings that Lori has been working on since 2011.  Studio 23 currently has 20 of them on display.  They are based off of a poem that Lori wrote in her car about wanting to draw a poem. 

The poem titled “I Want to Draw a Poem” goes:

“I want to draw a poem

about sorrow,

with big, loopy circles that

disappear off the paper,

returning unexpectedly,

like disappointment

catching you off guard

a fist in the gut

leaving you breathless, bent over


I want to press the pencil

into the surface of the paper

so hard

that it leaves a hollow

you can feel with your fingertips,

making a scrawl of furious line,

over and over and over,

darker and darker and darker,

until the whiteness is black,

a jagged grid.

I want to make marks

of swift movement,

shapes spelling out a calligraphy of

amazement at events

turning in ways

unimaginable (ever),

paint puddling

like sudden tears

pooled in the corner of the eye,

about to fall.

I want to sketch a gesture drawing,

a frenzied scrawl

running and running and running

to the edge of

the unknown earth,

lines in search of compassionate grisaille;

lines that collapse, exhausted

onto themselves,

in despair, disquiet,


I want to form a simple contour

tracing a line that pays attention,


trying to understand,

a mobius line that,


with ever – passing time,

ends the poem,

returning to the center,

explaining why.

Lori Zurvalec

© 2011

The poem traces the pathway of the drawings, but also the emotional journey that one goes through when they are filled with sorrow.  The work that she created directly references the poem in their composition and design.  Lori says that they started out representational, but then moved towards pure abstraction.  Order and control are two very important components to Lori’s process.  They can be seen in her work even amongst the flowing lines and marks of the poem series.  In many ways these drawings shy away from Lori’s normally very contrived and composed watercolor paintings towards a more loose  and freer style.  Maybe this is because Lori feels less in control when she is sorrowful, or maybe its simply because of the influence of the poem on her work.  Either way these drawings stand out from her normal way of working.

They are placed in a small room within the gallery to make the viewer be overwhelmed by the immense energy and emotion put into the work.  When looking at Lori’s Poem Series you can see her struggling, her pressure, her inner workings, and her sorrow.

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