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Resarch Report by Arielle Tai

Page history last edited by PBworks 13 years, 11 months ago

Research Report: VG: Voices from the Gaps. Women Artists and Writers of Colour, An International Website.

By Arielle Tai, Poetry Interpretation Team 


The site aims “to use new digital media to preserve and extend knowledge of art by women of colour”, providing search parameters such as artist name, genre, place of birth, significant dates and “axes of affiliation” which link to “biographical, critical and bibliographical information” as well as “images and quotations pertinent to her life and works”. Recently uploaded forms of multimedia include photo collages, sonic streams, video and digital files.



     Founded in 1996, the VG website is the result of a collaboration that involves not only the staff and student body of two University of Minnesota Liberal Arts departments, but scholars from around the world. Easily navigable and well-organised, visitors to the site use search parameters such as an artist’s name birthplace and significant dates relative to the artist to pull up bio pages. These pages provide information about the artist in question: biographical, bibliographical, as well as images of them, their work and other forms of multimedia such as  video and digital files. Artists featured on the site are North American women of colour, the term “artist” branching out to include those who choose the medium of film, music, or some other form of visual/performance art. 
As mentioned earlier, the website is a truly collaborative effort because not only the students and staff of the American Studies and English departments of the University of Minnesota contribute to the site. Interested individuals are invited to request permission to submit anything ranging from essays, photo essays, interviews, biographies and critiques. Through this way, the website is also used as an effective teaching tool in schools nationwide. Students are assigned classroom projects that may include writing up a biography page on an artist, supplementing/updating an existing page or essays such as book reviews. 
I believe the layout of the artist biography pages would work very well for our project. Across the top are four clickable links: this is precisely the type of layout and interactive click-through format our team is looking to build with Dreamweaver, where each link will lead to each team member’s personal interpretation of Jack Gilbert’s Failing and Flying. The collaborative quality of this website seems to be somewhere in between a privately authored website and a wiki like the one we use for class, as there are a vast range of contributors who are nonetheless regulated by administrators. I feel the philosophy behind this website’s creation fits well with the motives behind our project, as contributors choose to write about the artists and works that they deem adhere to the website’s aim of preserving and extending knowledge of artwork by women of colour. Similarly, our team hopes to not only illustrate the multiplicity of derived meanings inherent in poetry, but to condense the multimedia collages (that present our individual interpretations) to the point where only that which we perceive as conveying the essence of Gilbert’s work, or indeed what is most integral for its understanding, remains.  I do not perceive any particular limitations suggested by this website in relation to our project, other than the obvious fact that ours will not be nearly as complex with as many cross-links to other pages. Unlike VG we will not have as strong a collaborative vibe seeing as there are only four of us in the team who will be building, contributing and regulating the page, rather than the hundreds of individuals who have made VG what it is today, though perhaps this is something we can look into developing i.e. inviting contributors to present their own varied interpretations of poetry they enjoy, gradually condensing them in a similar manner, or providing interpretations of poetry that is already uploaded on the site.
Further Study
Lancashire, Ian and Plamondon, Mark R., eds. Representative Poetry Online. Version 3.0 1912–2008 < http://rpo.library.utoronto.ca/display/index.cfm>
Poetry Magazine. Poetry Library on the South Bank, London. Accessed 18th February 2008. < http://www.poetrymagazines.org.uk/>
VG: Voices from the Gaps. Women Artists and Writers of Colour, An International Website.
Regents of the University of Minnesota, 2006. University of Minnesota English Department. Accessed 10th Feb 2008. <http://voices.cla.umn.edu/>

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