Authors on Art: Imagining the Artist/Poet Edward Mullany

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Edward Mullany, dude who helped me when my raincoat got caught when train doors closed on me in subway, 2011. Image courtesy the artist.

Today BURNAWAY welcomes Mel Bosworth for this month’s Authors on Art, a series of creative responses by poets, novelists, and experimental writers curated by Blake Butler.
Art. It’s the twigs pebbles knotted up lips dark holes in your face bright yellow mustard behind you. I mean it’s the small things, the petty details like the sun. It’s also the big things like fleeting, selfless kindness. It’s the nameless stranger in dude who helped me when my raincoat got caught when train doors closed on me in subway by Edward Mullany. It’s just as much the text that goes along with the image. The two are sticky partners, humid high schoolers pulling at each other in some geographic blackness. Much of the time, for me, it’s a lot of I don’t know what but goddamn, and that’s okay too.
Edward Mullany, beach scene, or lecherous man nears woman in bikini, 2011. Image courtesy the artist.

At its simplest, though, it’s unfettered inspiration, a knowing that you’ve opened yourself to something that’s bigger than yourself but also exactly yourself, a well-tailored garment. It’s playing on a playground—or a beach like the one in beach scene, or lecherous man nears woman in bikini—that begins in the soft pink of your mind and then rolls out like ten thousand tiny red tongues to every fleshy surface on your body. And you can be as serious or as silly or as sad or as dead as you want. The only rule is: Relax so you don’t have to.
Edward Mullany’s images. Often ripped clean of superfluous details—anything more than a few strands of hair or two proper eyes. Most of the time one will do. One with the slitted hint of another. And then the self portraits, portraits of others, grubby, rubbed like beautiful vagrants or shining shits. Sometimes Edward tells us what materials or applications he’s using to create his works and sometimes he doesn’t. And hey you know what, that’s okay. The image is pouring into my skull and there’s not much for me to fret over in terms of texture, the varying roughness of the wood or canvas. I can’t touch these things with my fingers anyway. I can’t lick them. Not where I sit.
Edward Mullany, self-portrait with bright yellow to help stave off depression, 2011. Image courtesy the artist.

What I get from Edward’s work is a feeling, a good feeling, usually, that reminds me of awe or something as close to awe as I can express. Life is well-represented with minimalism. Life is well-represented with exaggeration. Warped faces. Elongated spines. Loose limbs like rubber bands that twist around your body. And then of course there’s God, a nail-clipping moon in repose, stretched way back, inviting some naked, shimmering star to stumble on over. These are our dreams. This is my dream.
Mel Bosworth is the author of the novel Freight, 2011, available through Folded Word. He lives and works in western Massachusetts.