Elevated Place by Brandon Brooks, 2014 Gold Medal Art Portfolio

Nathan Cummings and Brandon Brooks rely on the natural world for inspiration and to create, dazzle, and amaze their audiences.  Movement—whether it’s the unexpected flow of bent wood or the harmony of sound, tongue and teeth to pronounce a single word—also plays a central role.

Explains Nathan:  “I am a devotee of the arcane and bizarre: my writing includes pieces on phantom fish, conjoined twins, and the sheer improbability of the word syzygy (SIZZ-uh-GEE). This is my “normal,” the gear at which I’m used to operating.”

In astronomy, syzygy– the alignment of four planets– is a rare and fascinating occurrence. But for this poet, the process of saying the word and envisioning its reality stirred his imagination.  Can you see it as the planets spin below?


Silver Medal, Poetry, 2013 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards

Like syzygy, we collided
in the darkness, ricocheted,
twirled, aligned
(helped along by gravity?)
and were gone when the moon showed its face.

I told you the word at dawn,
and had to write it on a notepad
before you would believe me.
Many things sound impossible
before you put your tongue into them.

Feel it in the roots of your teeth.
Let the zy and gy crackle
like the static on an old TV set,
turning sound galvanic,
making atoms tremble in ecstasy
until they leap skyward,
form rows and hang in the void to hear
the planets sing with one burning voice.
Let consonants carry you away.


Ending by Brandon Brooks, 2014 Gold Medal Art Portfolio

When Brandon creates sculpture, he keeps two forces in mind: shadows and movement.

“I wanted to make the shadows as beautiful as possible,” says Brandon, “free-flowing circles and curves that suggest architecture in an abstract way.”  Brandon cites famed architect Louis Kahn  and designer Tom Ford  as two major influences.

Kahn emphasized the power of light and shadow in his work, and Ford uses dramatic shapes in his designs.

“I used the idea of hard materials creating soft organic shapes, two things on the opposite ends of the spectrum working together to help tell a story,” Brandon explains. “The work is right to the point and does not distract from what i really would like the viewer to look at.”

Nathan considers the forces of nature in the following work as well. In Transference, he explores the idea of reincarnation through natural energy.

“Above all,” he says, “ I want readers to experience the same sense of wonder and discovery that I feel every time I fall in love with some aspect of writing—a magnetic character, a lush setting or an engrossing plot, things that make you feel as if you could tilt your head and careen into the page, never to return.”


Truth by Brandon Brooks, 2014 Gold Medal Art Portfolio


National Student Poets Program Chapbook, 2013

In the moment when
the tiny body of the squirrel
is folded into itself,
the two-year symphony of its
rhythms and pulses and tempos is
silenced in mid-measure.

I want you to
consider the energy:
rays of sunlight caught in chains
of cellulose, digested, woven
into muscle strands, calcified in
thin willowy bones and
the orbit of the eye,
all of it dissipated.

Consider the tiny vibration you felt
as you race onward,
leaving a vague
l  o  n  g  i  t  u  d  i  n  a  l
the last filament of solar fire not
yet removed from glassine eyes
whose silent judgment follows you
past three exits and the horizon.

Consider the energy.
And when you have returned home,
traverse your garden,
cram an acorn into the soil, to take root
and spin anew.

(because you wish you could believe in reincarnation)

Want a better view of Brandon or another work from Nathan? Visit our online galleries here.

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