Fellows Friday: Q&A with Jenn McCreary

Jenn McCreary, 2013 Pew Fellow. Photo by Colin Lenton.

As part of our new “Fellows Friday” web feature, we focus on the artistic lives of our Pew Fellows: their aspirations, influences, and creative challenges. This week, we speak to 2013 Pew Fellow, poet, and ampersand lover Jenn McCreary, author of the new collection & now my feet are maps, recently published by Dusie Press, and co-founder and editor of Philadelphia’s ixnay press.

What images or things keep you company in the space where you work?

A Black Canary Barbie, from the DC superhero collection. A Blythe doll from 1972, whose enormous eyes change color when you pull the string in the back of her head. A few small zombie figures. Stacks & piles of books & articles, research material for whatever project I’m currently composting—so, currently, a heap of material about fairy tales & folklore concerned with weaving & hair; & another heap of material about the Cold War, nuclear shots the United States conducted in the early 1950s, Masters & Johnson’s early studies, & Freud’s On the Universal Tendency to Debasement in the Sphere of Love.

What is your favorite title of an art work?

Summer Hart’s drawing, That night she fell asleep in a tangle of roots. She dreamt there were more girls nestled in the trees, which I fell in love with (both title & drawing) & now hangs in my house & is the cover image of my new poetry book, & now my feet are maps.

If you could collaborate with anyone alive today (someone you don’t know personally), who would it be?

Jenny Holzer. I love her use of text in public space & her thingification of text. Her benches.

How does residing in this region contribute to your artistic practice?

The poetry community here has absolutely contributed to my practice—Philadelphia has so many amazing poets and it’s a genuinely warm & supportive community: the many reading series, the presses, the publications. Living in Philadelphia since 1991, when I came to study at Temple (a poetry workshop of Toby Olson’s I took at Temple in 1992, with [2013 Pew Fellow] Frank Sherlock, Chris McCreary & Tom Devaney), and meeting so many poets who are still living, working & writing here—I feel incredibly fortunate. It helps cultivate my work & keeps me on my toes. There’s always so much happening.

Grants & Grantees

The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia presented a commissioned work by American composer and Guggenheim Fellow Steven Mackey.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Michael Orlove currently serves as the director of artist communities and presenting & multidisciplinary works for the National Endowment for the Arts and has responsibility over the NEA’s international programs.

Pew Fellow Raphael Xavier takes his Center-supported autobiographical dance, The Unofficial Guide to Audience Watching Performance, to Chicago.

Theater artist and Pew Fellow Jennifer Kidwell on how she became an artist, the role of humor in her work, Philadelphia’s arts scene, and more.

Pew Fellow and visual artist Benjamin Volta leads an artmaking workshop as part of Historic Germantown’s ongoing Center-funded project Elephants on the Avenue.

Ceramist and Pew Fellow Lauren Mabry on her creative development, embracing the unexpected, and more.

Over the past 25 years, Pew Fellows have been recognized with numerous prestigious grants and awards, and have had their work presented in 49 US states and more than 60 countries.

Pew Fellow Christopher Colucci on his progression from musician to sound designer, the music and books that inspire him, and more.

Grants & Grantees

In 1994 the Center awarded Pew Fellowships to 16 Philadelphia-based artists, and grants to 34 dance and music organizations in the greater Philadelphia region.

Grants & Grantees

Founded in 1900, the Philadelphia Orchestra has distinguished itself as one of the world’s leading orchestras.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Pianist Marilyn Nonken is known for performances that explore transcendent virtuosity and extremes of musical expression.

Grants & Grantees

Scribe Video Center is currently producing an oral history media project that explores the rich and diverse history of Muslim communities in the region.