Word and Image - Warren and Jane Rohrer

Vol. 13, No. 1

This issue celebrates the contributions of painter Warren Rohrer (1927-1995) and poet Jane Rohrer (1928), and the conversation between verbal and visual art their work suggests. An exhibit of Warren's paintings and Jane's poems at the Palmer Museum of Art at the Pennsylvania State University, "Field Language," opens February 10 - June 6, 2021. A second exhibit with different matertials, "Hearing the Brush," will open at the Woodmere Art Museum in Chestnut Hill, PA on Apirl 9 - July 10, 2022. NOTE: Due to extreme weather, the Palmer Art Museum has closed the exhibit until further notice. Check their website for details. We will post re-opening time when it is available.

In this issue:

  • 0 read more Issue Introduction: Word and Image - Warren and Jane Rohrer

    Issue Introduction: Word and Image - Warren and Jane Rohrer

    by Ann Hostetler

    It is both a privilege and a joy to publish this issue of the Journal of Mennonite Writing on the words and images of Warren and Jane Rohrer. Both Warren and Jane Rohrer were at the cutting edge of artistic accomplishment among persons from Mennonite contexts. I first met them in the mid-1970s, after I had graduated from college with a major in art and was working in New York City in publishing. Home for the weekend in Philadelphia, I was invited by my parents to join them at a gathering of Mennonite scholars, artists, and thinkers, around supper at ...

  • 0 read more Exhibitions of Warren Rohrer's paintings and Jane's Poems

    Exhibitions of Warren Rohrer's paintings and Jane's Poems

    by Kasdorf, Reed, Robinson

    In collaboration with Christopher Reed and Joyce Henri Robinson, Julia Spicher Kasdorf has arranged for two exhibitions, different in focus and content, of the paintings of Warren Rohrer and the poems of Jane Turner Rohrer at the Palmer Museum of Art at The Pennsylvania State University (February 10 - June 6, 2021) and at the Woodmere Art Museum in Chestnut Hill, PA (April 6 - July 10, 2022). See below for details on exhibits and related links.

  • 0 read more Field Language: Digital Companion

    Field Language: Digital Companion

    by Hannah Matangos

    The “digital companion” to the Palmer exhibition, which includes 4 informational videos:

    https://sites.psu.edu/fieldlanguage/

  • 0 read more Poem: Acquiring Land

    Poem: Acquiring Land

    by Jane Rohrer

    Poem from Acquiring Land by Jane Rohrer. Dreamseeker Poetry Series #17, Cascadia Publishing, 2020.

  • 0 read more Poem: Weatherless Journey

    Poem: Weatherless Journey

    by Jane Rohrer

    Poem from Acquiring Land by Jane Rohrer. Dreamseeker Poetry Series #17, Cascadia Publishing, 2020.

  • 0 read more Use Your Words: A Review of Acquiring Land by Jane Rohrer

    Use Your Words: A Review of Acquiring Land by Jane Rohrer

    by Melanie Zuercher

    If you are a Mennonite of a certain age, the product of a Mennonite higher education, and if your first full-time job after graduating from Goshen (Ind.) College was to work for (at the time, and arguably) the best-known Mennonite arts entity on the East Coast or even below the 49th parallel, while living for three years in Lancaster, Pa. – well, if you are all those things, you might be me. But you are not, so I will add: You might see a book “by Jane Rohrer” titled Acquiring Land: Late Poems and, knowing she had been married to ...

  • 0 read more Review of Field Language: The Painting and Poetry of Warren and Jane Rohrer

    Review of Field Language: The Painting and Poetry of Warren and Jane Rohrer

    by Ervin Beck

    NOTE: The book reviewed here is a companion for two exhibits—one at the Palmer Museum of Art at Pennsylvania State University and one at the Woodmere Museum in Philadelphia. Covid protocols forced the postponement of both. The Palmer exhibit is scheduled for Feb. 10-June 6, 2021; the Woodmere, a year later, to April 6, 2022- July 10, 2022.

    * * * * * *

    Julia Spicher Kasdorf, Christopher Reed, Joyce Henri Robinson, eds. Field Language: The Painting and Poetry of Warren and Jane Rohrer. University Park, PA: Palmer Museum of Art (Penn State U.), 2020. Pp. 225. $39.95.

    This impressive collection of eleven essays and ...

  • 0 read more Hearing the Brush: A Response

    Hearing the Brush: A Response

    by Ann Hostetler

    Tucked near the back of Field Language[1] is a selection of Jane Rohrer’s poems, accompanied by her husband, Warren’s paintings. “Hearing the Brush”—a selection of 13 poems, twelve paintings, and two photographs—has the integrity of a stand-alone chapbook. The editors have created a nuanced arrangement that follows the arc of Jane’s development as a poet, her communion with Warren, and the emergence of a strong solo voice after his death. Not only does the arrangement track artistic development, it also sets up a conversation between word and image that creates a third dimension in its resonance in the reader ...

  • 0 read more Mennonite Creators' Discussion Group, 1993-2000

    Mennonite Creators' Discussion Group, 1993-2000

    by Lois Frey Gray

    In the fall of 1992, Lois Snavely Frey (now Gray), heard Warren Rohrer speak about his work as an artist at People’s Place, a center for Mennonite arts and culture, in Intercourse, PA. Frey, a Lancaster, PA social worker interested in creativity, was captivated by Rohrer’s talk and asked him for a copy. He told her that there was no manuscript for his talk, but offered conversation. Thus the idea for the Mennonite creativity discussion group began to form in Frey’s mind.[1]

    By 1993, US Mennonites in the arts were beginning to gain traction in the public sphere and ...

  • 0 read more Poem: Boustrophedon

    Poem: Boustrophedon

    by Julia Spicher Kasdorf

    This poem, from Julia Kasdorf's Eve's Striptease (Univ. of Pittsburgh Press, 1998), was written for Warren Rohrer. In an ironic twist, the poet (Julia) learned this Greek literary term from the visual artist (Warren), who was obsessed with it.

    Julia comments: I wrote the poem after learning the word from Warren’s mouth the day when Lois’s creativity group met at Locks Gallery. I wrote it FOR Warren and mailed it to him. He wrote me a letter in return in which he pointed out the sestina structure, literally mapped it out in lists of numbers. He didn’t realize I’d used a standard European form, but wanted me to see that he recognized what I’d done structurally. Now that I see his notebooks, which are in a case at the Penn State exhibition, I realize that he meticulously mapped out plans for his paintings. They might look spontaneous, but they’re highly engineered. Anyway, he also said that they didn’t really “move to the city” [for art] as the poem states because his career flourished on the Christiana farm. (Earlier, of course, he and Jane lived in the Philly suburbs.) That detail was as much about my life as his, and this biographical sketch helped me to make a map for myself, I now realize. When the Allentown Museum hosted an exhibition of Warren’s work in 2016, they asked me to offer a little talk about Jane’s poetry, and I suppose that’s what got me reading her work carefully. When I showed up at the exhibition, there was a chunk of “Boustrophedon" on the wall. It blew me away. That may be what gave me the idea to put Jane’s poems on the wall with Warren’s paintings.

  • 0 read more The Possibility of Positive Marginality: Warren Rohrer’s Mennonite Community of Origin

    The Possibility of Positive Marginality: Warren Rohrer’s Mennonite Community of Origin

    by Steven M Nolt

    “There is this beauty which comes out of all these experiences that one has,” Warren Rohrer decided. It was a remarkable assertion, given its context. A number of Mennonite-reared artists and thinkers had come together in spring 1993 to discuss sources of creativity, and in the process shared story after story of misunderstanding and rejection by their childhood church communities. Listening to their accounts, therapist Lois Frey, who had convened the discussion, recognized the obvious pain in these narratives of being relegated to the margins. But she also wondered if there might be some “positive marginality,” some special ...

  • 0 read more Making Believe: Reflections

    Making Believe: Reflections

    by Magdalene Redekop

    This seminal new book--part intellectual autobiography, part theoretical exploration--probes issues of representation in Mennonite literture and art.