September 6, 2018-September 29, 2018

Thursday, September 6: Opening Reception for Louder in the Dark



Taking up a call and response exhibition format, Louder in the Dark features works from SOIL members that explore themes from the concurrent group exhibition, Becoming American, while also including a particular emphasis upon participating artist and poet Aram Saroyan’s groundbreaking “minimal” poetry. With a selection of poems punctuating the wall space of the gallery, Saroyan's work offers a frame to think through the larger exhibition and the complexity of our contemporary moment. Excerpted from a series of compositions written during 1964-72, a tumultuous yet highly experimental period in American art, culture, and politics, the poems compress text into acts of visual concision, rupture, revision, lyrical seduction, refusal, meditation, laughter, and cracked open innovation that are just as fresh and provocative fifty years later.   


Meant to be looked at as much as read, the poems are displaced and transposed from the page to take the conventional place of the image in the exhibition while artists’ works across medium will occupy the place of prototype, sketch, and model often associated with thinking through an idea or first draft. Assembled as a collective presentation of singular responses, a series of display tables sequenced within the gallery will present works that question, answer, and redirect what’s on view in the larger exhibition, including the poems that echo across the gallery walls.




Aram Saroyan is a poet, novelist, memoirist, and playwright. He attended the University of Chicago, New York University, and Columbia University, but did not complete a degree. The son of the writer William Saroyan, Aram Saroyan made his debut as a writer with six poems and a review of Robert Creeley's novel The Island in the April 1964 issue of Poetry magazine. He became famous for his one-word or “minimal” poems, a form he developed during the early and mid-1960s, and which is often linked to Concrete poetry. Saroyan is also frequently linked to Second Generation New York School Poets and conceptual art. Saroyan’s first books in this mode were Aram Saroyan (1968) and Pages (1969). His poem consisting of the single word “lighght” was selected by Robert Duncan for inclusion in the American Literary Anthology and received an award from the then-new National Endowment for the Arts—for which it also received scorn and ridicule from conservative demagogues including Jesse Helms and Ronald Reagan. His visual arts practice, although under recognized for most of his career has recently been foregrounded in at the 2016 L.A. Biennial, which was subtitled after one of Saroyan’s poems,  “a, the, though, only” and at Commonwealth & Co., Los Angeles (2016). 


Curated by Fionn Meade 




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