A Progressive Lens

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Room 36.4: A Progressive lens
Edited by 
Amy McCall & Lorrie Miller

There is a point in which we no longer see things the same way we once did. It is not simply that we find it difficult to read miniscule print on labels listing the ingredients to things we know we shouldn’t eat. It is the fact that, with our life experiences, we weigh the importance of things differently.

“A Progressive Lens” emerged from an open call for submissions. From there, it came into focus under the influence of our commissioned author, Rhea Tregebov, featured artist, Heather Benning, and our interview with writer Gail Anderson-Dargatz.

Site-specific installation artist Heather Benning has startling work that challenges and plays with our expectations. A dollhouse stands illuminated in an azure night. Nothing seems amiss: the pastel walls, the miniture furnishings, the piano hinge marking the roofline. Only upon closer inspection is it clear that this is not in fact what it seems; it is a life-size farmhouse, a building with history. Now with a wall peeled away, it stands beautiful and playful in a dark field. It begs the questions: Are we all still children playing house? Do we play at life? What if we are the dolls?

In “Other Girls,” Rhea Tregebov takes us back in time chronologically, and into the life of a young woman sorting out her identity. It is not simply a nostalgic tale, but an insightful narrative. Her story reminds us how our balance, of what we deem important in life, tips with experience.

Though we cannot really know what it is to live the life of another, we can appreciate their experiences if we allow ourselves to be enveloped within their stories. Gail Anderson-Dargatz reminds us to slow down and look closely at the world we live in, to really imagine what it might be like from a different angle from the one we’ve grown accustomed to.

The pieces in this issue provide us with a shift of perspective, perhaps even, a progressive lens, one that is less conservative, more playful, intriguing. Progressive lenses allow us to see the fine print that we may have glossed over, or never really tried to see. As you read through our pages, take your time, sit back, and allow the shift to begin. Enjoy.

About the Contributors 

Saskatchewan artist Heather Benning has had numerous solo and group shows throughout Canada and abroad. She received a BFA from Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in 2004 and a Master of Sculpture at Edinburgh College of Art in 2009. Between her degrees, Benning returned to Saskatchewan, where she completed several large-scale, site-specific installations.

Abby Paige is a writer, performer, and native Vermonter currently residing in Ottawa, Ontario. Her poems and book reviews have appeared in Canada and the U.S., most recently in Ottawater, Arc, and The WRUV Reader: A Vermont writers’ Anthology. Her chapbook, Other Brief Discourses, was published earlier this year by Ottawa’s above/ground press.

Iranian born, Nilofar Shidmehr is a B.C. Book Prize nominated poet and a PhD researcher on poetic inquiry. She is a part of the Iranian women’s movement. She lives with her husband in Yaletown.

Emily Wall is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Alaska Southeast. She has been published in a number of literary journals in the U.S. and Canada. She has two books published with Salmon Poetry: Liveaboard (2012) and Freshly Rooted (2007). Emily lives and writes in Juneau, Alaska.

In this issue

Susan Alexander
Erin Ashenhurst
Heather Benning
Susan Braley
Mary Corkery
Susan (Crowe) Fenner
Taryn Hubbard
Sarah L. Johnson
Molly Lynch
Nico Mara-McKay
Nadine McCallen
Almeda Glenn Miller
Lorrie Miller
Chelsea Novak
Abby Paige
Janna Payne
Dorothy Raffo
Autumn Richardson
Lindsey Robinson
Carrie Schmidt
Nilofar Shidmehr
Marie Elyse St. George
Rhea Tregebov
Emily Wall
Deborah Whelan
Cathleen With
Jennifer Zilm


"The Dollhouse: Living Room Reflection" by Heather Benning "The Dollhouse: Burn (untitled back—working image)" by Heather Benning "The Dollhouse: Burn (untitled back—working image)" by Heather Benning "Field Doll: In Parking lot" by Heather Benning

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