The Stanzas
By James Zingarelli

I've been reading some Aquinas on aesthetics, particularly focusing on his concept of wholeness which he ties to form, harmony, proportion, and order. In Umberto Eco's tome, The Aesthetics of Thomas Aquinas, he writes that for Aquinas "everything he says about beauty indicates that it is grounded in form, and that if an object is to be experienced as beautiful it must be considered from the point of view of its formal cause, and that beauty grounded in form, means "that it is grounded in the concrete substantiality of things." For Aquinas, virtue, health, and even God himself carried this definitive harmony or "form" and interacted and integrated with "the substantiality of things" most evidenced in the incarnation itself.

With this series of paintings dealing with issues of form and wholeness (the series continues) I'm hoping to connect various idioms of language, particularly through the use of lyric units that are simultaneously poetic, musical, architectonic, and archeological in nature.

The Stanzas

The company of individuals have somersault contests that land them in their neighbors’ yard. You can walk downstairs or use the fire-pole. There are other rooms behind these: after all, it’s a big family. This does not account for the periodic visitor who doesn’t always use the door. Uncle Orr would just as soon climb through the window you’ve left open. Mike the detective drops in, literally, as if having just escaped another suite. We live in communion, like it or not and whether your Zen retreat lasted for six days or six months, you must return to these zigzag rhythms we rarely embrace, but reluctantly accept. Can I embrace those rhythms? Is there communion here for me as well?

Stanza is the Italian word for “room”. Every painting, therefore, is kind of large room or house of many rooms, a cut-away of what is occurring in each room and each rooms takes on it’s own unique character or one might say it is filled with characters and the events or narratives particular to that room. A stanza is also a block of words or phrases as in a poem, and it is also one of a series of lyrics in a song. As with all language these are the parts of some greater whole. Some of the mark making may allude to glyphs and ciphers, images or parts of images, figurative references and narrative cycles. They are all marks that are immanently human marks, marks made by a whole man: body, mind, and spirit.

Each work presses at the edges of a defined structure, the way a poet might work within the structure of a sonnet, sestina, or pantoum. Still, the drawn or “pulled” mark is dominant and these lines and colors are the organizing principles within each. These grids of “events” bump and draw into one another where enjambment is right at home. There are doors and windows to climb through and yes, in that traditional Renaissance idea too, the framing of the action has been purposefully designed into a balance which, I must tell you, absolutely refuses to remain entirely within its own boundaries but will elude the box, traverse to the next, and make conversation with adjacent neighbors. I want to have the formal pentameter of blank verse, but the option, the opportunity, to invest and be surprised by the possibilities and variegated dialogues. I want the formal parallelism likened to sound in both music and poetry as with certain repetitions that reinforce the inherent structure while also offering a dynamic which move the eye frame by frame. I want a playful improvisation that keeps my attention in the making of the work keeping monotony at arm’s length, that is, as one friend l put it, “not hit the pattern fully”.

In these stanzas may you find, generosity, hospitality, and music for your soul.

James Zingarelli
Gordon College
Barrington Center for the Arts
255 Grapevine Road
Wenham, Massachusetts  01984
(978) 927-2300 ext 4822


Stanza 6



Stanza 5





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2004 The Episcopal Church and Visual Arts