Late at Night ©DJ Hill
My aunt once told me she dreamed her house
had a secret room, one which held everything
she loved most. I used to have that dream
“Late at Night My Mind Goes Walking,” from Homespun Mercies
It had been one of the most challenging seasons of my life. Seven years into marriage with my high school sweetheart, we decided to sell the ‘family home’ and start fresh. It was February of 2016, the spring of my junior year. In the midst of a 20-credit semester with a pending wedding, graduation, and study abroad trip to Ireland, adding house showings and daily cleanings stretched us thin. The realtor had assured us the house would take a while to sell. As luck would have it, we were flooded with showings and the house sold within thirty days. Thus began a whirlwind of packing, purging, and praying we would make it through. When we drove out of the driveway for the last time, we thought surely the worst was behind us.
With all but the essentials in storage, we moved to an apartment nearby and a second one three weeks later. At night I would toss and turn, while my subconscious worked to make sense of it all. “Late at Night My Mind Goes Walking” was created after a cross-country move almost a year to the day, and soon became a metaphor of keeping the faith during times of transition.
Bacon Man ©DJ Hill
Chief Sitting Bull
and I want to know
Did you think to watch your back
“Annie Oakley,” from Homespun Mercies
This collage came as a complete surprise. In the midst of a one-week course with collage artist Holly Roberts, I had been thinking—like many Americans—about the state of our country and the contentious nature of our politics. In the stack of magazine clippings I had brought along, there was an image of a proud Native American chief: headdress, piercing eyes, and a square jaw set. Stunning.
What happened next I can’t fully explain except to say that I began to deconstruct the image. I added the hair and hat of a 1940s farm girl, along with blue eyes looking askance, gold lips, and undersized sneakers, features that make folks laugh when they see it. But the hands—cut out from a page of an old dictionary—contain the real meaning: I was making the Indian chief look more like me while encapsulating the emasculation of an entire culture.
What Did I Know of Love ©DJ Hill
The first time a boy told me he love me, I was in 6th grade
Mr. Evenocheck’s class, kept in from recess for failing
to complete the required assignment—constructing my spider
body from wire and yarn so it could hang with the others
“What Was I to Know of Love,” from Homespun Mercies
One of the challenges of collage is communicating your intentions. I am much more comfortable letting the viewer wander through the images to surmise their own meaning, especially pieces that challenge me emotionally.
This collage came on the heels of writing the poem. How do familial and societal views of gender, sex, and self shape our views of how and with whom we seek to find happiness and relationships during our lifetime? What happens when those constructs fall apart?
This piece explores the idealized and sexualized relationships between men and women. While the collage has a darker undercurrent, it remains optimistic that love—in whatever form it takes—will ultimately win out.
Mother and Child Reunion ©DJ Hill
“But we were wise. We knew that man’s heart,
away from nature, becomes hard.”
– Chief Luther Standing Bear
I’m often asked how an idea becomes a collage and this piece is an example of the serendipity that happens in between. This piece started with an image of an island on Instagram that caught my eye. I asked the photographer for permission to use it in a collage. At that point I had no idea how or where it would appear.
The lush island-turned-Madonna became the foundation of the collage. The juxtaposition of ethereal and terrestrial challenge the viewer to find meaning in seemingly disparate—yet united—representations.
An Apology to My Inner Poet ©DJ Hill
Every day he perches
in the corner of the study, tapping
his fingers on the armrest,
his gaze piercing the back of my head
“An Apology to My Inner Poet,” from Homespun Mercies
Procrastination is an issue for many writers and artists. My goal when writing this poem was to personify my muse as he becomes increasingly disgruntled by my lack of discipline (the use of “he” in relation to my inner poet is a discussion for another time).
I like the boldness of the background, the overarching “assistance” of the unseen inner poet, and the apathy of the writer—perfectly summing up the daily challenge of life as a creative.
Rockabye Baby ©DJ Hill
If you are early your mother once said
her voice a whir dancing inside your head
above the clouds you lick the sky, and thread
the eye of a lullaby
“Mother Goosed Sonnet,” from Homespun Mercies
If you grew up in the 1950s or 60s, the name Mother Goose is familiar and synonymous with nursery rhymes. In my childhood home, we sang the songs, read the books, and associated
both with gender roles of the time.
After our move to Colorado, I was thrilled to come across my collection of piano music, including a 1950s songbook of Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes. Even after so many years, the pastel images were familiar to me—anything but the first refrain, not so much. As I assembled this collage, I found myself playing with the phrases and was surprised by the outcome. Even the scrambled letters of Mother Goose took on new meaning.
Leaving Oz ©DJ Hill
“Holding on is believing that there’s only a past;
letting go is knowing that there’s a future.”
– Daphne Rose Kingma
“Leaving Oz” is one of my favorite pieces created at Anderson Ranch. I love how the background turned out—first painted a sunny yellow, followed by a mixture of mud and blue paint haphazardly spread across the canvas.
To adequately portray both happiness and melancholy, I struggled to find images that would reflect opposite sides of this emotional spectrum. The face of the girl with the red bow perfectly captures what had personally plagued me for months. As the girl rises to new places and opportunities, those left behind can only watch from a distance.
Lucretia ©DJ Hill
As I watch the girl with her saffron curls
Pause, transfixed by a bloodied blade
Unaware, I’m afraid, of impending rain
“Lucretia,” from Homespun Mercies
On our first date, my husband took me to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts to see one of his favorite paintings. The story is a sad one; Lucretia, the wife of a Roman nobleman, is raped by Sextus Tarquinius, son of the ruling tyrant. After summoning witnesses to disclose the act, Lucretia takes her own life, choosing death over dishonor.
Rembrandt painted two images: one as she contemplates suicide; the next, immediately after she ends her life. The look of anguish on her face and the tears welled up in her eyes makes the pain palpable in Rembrandt’s masterpiece, but, more importantly, in the hearts and souls of all victims of sexual violence.