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Millikin professors unveil photo-haiga exhibit, which combines haiku with images

by Alicia Spates, H&R Staff Writer

Herald & Review • Febraury 7, 2009

DECATUR - Text has a way of changing one's perception of an image.

This truth became clear Friday afternoon as two Millikin University English professors collaborated for an art show that included photography and poetry. Priscilla Meddaugh, assistant professor of English, and Randy Brooks, professor of English and acting dean of the college of arts and sciences, introduced the Japanese art form of photo-haiga to an audience of 30 students and faculty in Staley Library. The exhibit remains on display on the second floor of the library until Feb. 15.

Haiga is the matching of visual art, usually paintings in the Japanese tradition, to haiku. Meddaugh and Brooks' exhibit matches photography to haiku. "Japanese tradition is integrating the arts," Brooks said to the audience. "The photograph is not a response to the haiku. It's the link to the haiku." Brooks wrote the three-line poetry verses that were then "linked" by Meddaugh to her photography. The process of creating haiga can be vice versa, Brooks said. "I really like to encourage students from all the different areas of art ! to collaborate," he said. "It's fun and surprising."

"I loved it," Meddaugh said of putting the exhibit together. "Randy and I matched really well together with this beautiful form of artistic expression." Brooks and Meddaugh each explained their thinking on 12 varied combinations to the audience, which was followed by a haiku poetry reading.

Devon Fitzgerald, also an assistant English professor, wasn't aware of haiga before Friday's presentation. "I thought it was interesting how a caption will make you think differently of a picture," she said of the verses not always pertaining perfectly to the photo. "It gives an interesting twist on an idea."

Meddaugh agreed. "You see the picture differently after you make the linking," she said. "(Society) thinks in this linear fashion ! but you have to look at this holistically on multiple planes to soak it up," she added.


News Story. "Millikin professors unveil photo-haiga exhibit, which combines haiku with images." Herald & Review, (Decatur, IL), Febraury 7, 2009.

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