BODY PROJECT: Six Poems by Chrissy Nelson

with six images by Blake Nellis

the stick remains

That single chair in the corner
is the only one without a shadow
but no one will dare sit there
because the sun shines directly down
and no one can bare the pressure....
and when asked to speak your truth
you feel like your icing might melt
and all that's left is a stick.

catching sand

Reading between the railings
of my porch that overlooks
I can see glimpses
of their wet suits
and sand soaked hair
and failed attempts
of piggy backs and karate kicks
wondering who makes them dinner
and reads them to sleep
on the days that they get dropped.

offer a song

Orange push-up pops are melting

always in my bowl

because the rain was held at bay

until someone would offer a song.

skin.rock.bone: cuddle rock

Today I sewed two sheets together

so we could cuddle big.

skin like paper held taut

Ink like dust
is captured on
skin like paper
each time I walk from here to there

And it felt like I was here 5 years ago
talking trash about fuel grades and wine
and packing way too many scarves

I learned
he was thrown from his car
and she was trapped in her body
so I rubbed lavender in my hair
and typed the letter A really hard
asking for someone to make me dinner

Then I was in the middle
between two
so I danced by the fire without an umbrella
wishing the snow would bring whiskey
to my lips

But instead they danced on my table
and asked me to hold the garage door cord
they asked me to hold it

hidden face

Two pieces of my house
are only a quarter of what I see
In this mud bathing my tire
and the nickel that lies face down
that rarely pays for my solitude
that barely pays for my dinner
of which I am stuffed
of the 2 pieces of my house
where scissors are found in only one drawer.

Got some poetry/writings that you want to share? Email me: 

BODY BLOG: In a familiar place

I had the honor of being artist in resident last week at Luther College, where I've taught many times before.  But it was my first time teaching there since the spring of 2015.  So, I was excited, nervous, curious to how things would go... And I wasn't just teaching "Contact Improvisation," my usual go-to discipline.  I decided to combine my love for body and beauty in what I'm calling "Beauty Aesthetics"

SKIN.ROCK.BONE: selfie taken in Decorah, IA

Here's what I hoped to touch on: An exploration of the intersection between visual aesthetics and somatic dance improvisation. My primary/current interest lies between our culture's beauty standards and my re-evaluation of that standard through the body, touch, nature and dance (specifically Contact Improvisation, Four Phases - a Jane Hawley created practice, & Photography).  I would like to investigate how we make "beautiful" art that fits or confronts our culture's norms.  (AND WHAT THE HECK IS BEAUTIFUL ANYWAY?!)  

Here's what I'm asking:

Who defines beauty? What makes you beautiful? Can we resist labeling art as beautiful/not? What are we drawn to with our eyes and other senses?  How can we offer more beauty to this world? And how can we increase our capacity to see beauty among us? 

Is there a certain texture/color that pulls you in? 

Is there a certain texture/color that pulls you in? 

Can you re-frame what you've seen many times before? 

Can you re-frame what you've seen many times before? 

Is the way I look what makes me beautiful?  Can I change what others see in me?  What if something stops being beautiful to me? 

When I was a student at Luther College, more than a decade ago, I asked many of these same questions.  And returning to Luther brought them all flooding back.  I'm constantly rearranging my beauty standards and finding new things that I'm drawn to.  Yet it's still so easy to judge, critique and search for the standard "beauties" out there.  

Nature is my partner and my teacher. 

*when each student was asked to chose an image they found beautiful from my website, these eight were chosen & reasons varied for each.  Many of them explained they chose the image for sentimental or emotional value.  We then constructed short solos inspired by these photos.      

MY PRACTICE: I find with a little introspection, breath and human touch I lose track and redefine my world through sensation.  It's the body that sees/feels beauty.  It's not up to someone else to decide my beauty standards.  It's constantly shifting.  It's surprising.  It's honest.  I know what's beautiful.  And I hope to share it, now more than ever.  

you're beautiful