Folding Space to Bring You Back

Folding Space to Bring You Back:

The Supplication by Renovation in the work of Christina P. Day

Three Poems by Courtney Mandryk

*Christina P. Day and I made work on each side of a studio wall at Cranbrook Academy of Art in 2005. I saw her finished constructions, and I also saw the photographs from her and her parents’ childhoods sitting on her studio table: square polaroids that captured the snippets of wallpaper and dresses and faces that she evokes in a continually refined state. I have been and am drawn to these themes in her work: of being neither here nor there (the music fading in and out, the window you look to see through and find only paint), of being neither one thing nor another thing, and also both things (the plaid wallpaper that is also the print of drawer liners and tablecloths; the window painted in the color and sheen of a wall); the theatre of home renovation (demolition by cracking paint on purpose, the painting over and painting over, nailing and spackling, cutting and layering in these old Philadelphia homes); of transience as evidenced in material (a song fading in and out, wallpaper cut away); and, conversely, of permanence as evidenced in material (the twist-tie, sealed with paint, that came with the headphones and that she refuses to remove; the palimpsest of wallpaper under wallpaper that we keep covering and uncovering, whether we want to or not, for generations). From these themes and our conversations, from her precise language about her own work and my interpretations of it, emerged these three poems, three rooms in a house.


Room 1

I thought I knew          the song and then the door closed.

Song fading in and out, breathing, known           to unknown, sound throbbing,

crawling through sheetrock walls,         sucking in and out of rib-walls.

Here and there, neither.           Music absorbs into the two-by-fours

like paint, like smoke          in wallpaper. I want permanent paint

that glows in the dark and                         doesn’t rub off or fade, fade.

It passes, she passes, he passes,          don’t say it

(I will go, too). I am right here           thinking of something else.

Someone I loved was here                                        and now she is just dust

I vacuum up                                                                         what? She takes off her headphones.

There are no bad ghosts in this room.                                   She was here and then the over-painted song

stopped. Inside                        the speakers like mice the song lives

the song fades, the song gets eaten away

Room 2

If longing is a yearning for what once was                            then this isn’t that,

because all that was                   is right here.

The woman was looking at wallpaper, then                        closed her eyes for good. Extraction, overlay,

extraction,                   subtraction, overlay, distraction.

She stared at plaid,                     cutting away the ghost of plaid,

as when I would mow the field                                  and afterward look up:

those negative stripes in the sky                            (where here I saw

what wasn’t there                         overlaying what once was).

A paranormal panorama                             of pattern and surface, plywood beneath

overpainted polyurethane                       under and over plaid

overlaying a shellac extraction.              In the polaroids my family is

as they were; they                       are more beautiful than

I knew. Silent and uncracked,                breathe don’t breathe,

the surfaces sealed shut.

Room 3

In this room the           (center) is implied but missing.

The wall was the only thing separating.  (ghost)

This is more surreal than uncanny,      more of a dream than a discomfort.

Our home folded, our home alive,                         our home dusted.

Patterned Window, Wallpaper Door,                    Window Wall, Paint Mirror,

both here now and stuck there.            Her voice must inhabit the walls.

Her voice cracked.                      The neighbor’s chest rising, falling.

Like that moment where I can’t remember                          if the leaves are gone because spring is about

to come                       or because fall is done.

The day’s high gloss.                                  A gray-green eggshell-sheen paint

coating the spring-fall sky.                        The wall was the only thing separating the fact.


The pattern as a go-between that could pass                                     through the wall

like a song can.                             Architecture housing a moment that won’t go away.

The wall was the only thing separating the fact                                  that she had passed

in her home and not ours.

Courtney Mandryk received her MFA in Poetry from the University of Michigan and her MFA in Fiber from the Cranbrook Academy of Art. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in journals such as the Michigan Quarterly Review, DIAGRAM, and the Adirondack Review.  She studies the ephemeral in  She recently moved to Philadelphia, PA.

To download a .pdf version of this exhibition essay, click Mandryk_Day_April_2013

One Response to “Folding Space to Bring You Back”
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  1. […] to a dialog she and Day shared about the development of the work in this exhibition.  Please click here to read her introduction and poetry. […]

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