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Poetry Friday: Paintings and Poems, The Liberating Landscape Exhibit

Museum of Northern Arizona

The Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff had just opened its second annual Liberating Landscape exhibit when the pandemic hit, closing the museum and virtually everything else. The exhibit features the work of 6 female artists who were in northern Arizona between 1900 and 1940. It includes work by Hopi potter Nampeyo and painter Kate Cory, who traveled by herself from New York in 1900 to live, work and make art with the Hopi people. Also featured in the exhibit are poems by Northern Arizona University students, written in response to the artwork. It's a technique called “ekphrastic poetry.” With the museum still closed, and nobody able to enjoy the exhibit in-person, MNA took the project online. In this week’s Poetry Friday segment, we hear a montage of poems from the exhibit, with an introduction by MNA marketing director and poet Kristan Hutchison.

KH: Students from NAU came to see the exhibit just after it opened, and chose their poems to write about, and then the museum had to close before the poems were completed and before we could put them up, before anybody could come see the exhibit or the poems.

So, we’ve been trying to bring this art and these poems out to the public in other ways. In this period of social distancing and museum closures, the museum’s been bringing everything we can online, including these poems as read by the students. All 15 poems can be heard there and seen along with the pieces of art. We also created a small chapbook that people can download and print out for free that has the poems in them.

I really hope that people can enjoy this chance to see the art that’s in this exhibit and enjoy the poems at this time while we’re still waiting. And we are still waiting for the museum to re-open.

  1. Hidden Lovliness, a poem by Penny Trunzo. Her poem is in response to San Francisco Peaks from Cameron, a painting by Lillian Wilhelm Smith.
  2. “Desert Scene” Pairs well with Barefoot Moscato, by Ash Lohmann. Her poem is in response to the painting, Desert Scene, by Harriet Morton Holmes.
  3.  God Lives in a Desert Church, by Madalyne Linder. Her poem is in response to the painting, Church at Rancho de Taos, by Mary-Russell Ferrell Colton.
  4. Night Fire, by Karla Habershaw. Her poem is in response to the painting, A Navajo Dance by Firelight, by Lillian Wilhelm Smith.

You can check out all 15 poems and paintings by clicking on these links:

Poetry Friday is produced by KNAU's Gillian Ferris. If you have an idea for a segment, drop her an email at