5Q’S with Jared Stanley

5Q’S with Jared Stanley

Jared Stanley is a poet and writer who often works with visual artists. In this edition of 5Q’s, we hand it over to Stanley’s former student Aurelio— a local photographer and writer—to ask Stanley questions that reveal his thoughts on public response, self-doubt, and the depths of his own vulnerability in his writing.

Installation view of, More Cloud Than Hammer, HP Gallery, Reno, 2022. Photo by Alisha Funkhouser

1. You currently have a diptych titled, “More Cloud Than Hammer” on view in the group exhibition, Holding Pattern curated by Nick Larsen. Could you describe the themes surrounding, “More Cloud Than Hammer”?

Thanks for the lovely questions, Aurelio.

“More Cloud Than Hammer” is a text-based diptych of two framed wall pieces, each of which feature two crayon rubbings overlaid on each other and hung below eye-level in a corner of the Serva Pool space. The text is a collaged rubbing from the Newlands memorial located on California Ave. and Newlands Circle in Reno.

I like to think of this piece as a little monument to confusion, bewilderment, and loss of faith. Such states of being are in stark contrast to the simplistic, totalizing colonial logic behind the original monument, which celebrates a 19th-century white supremacist senator from Nevada. I wanted to take away its power through gentleness, by turning a monument into a lyric.

Julia Schwadron, who’s also in the show, came up with the title.

Detailed view of, More Cloud Than Hammer, HP Gallery, Reno, 2022. Photo by Alisha Funkhouser

2. What is one of your biggest fears when showcasing your work to the public?

I’m most afraid of being misunderstood, but in a way, I also kind of don’t care. Here’s the thing: the work I most love and cherish is the stuff that really resists simplicity and completeness and is always risking incomprehension. I like work that puts music before sense, that doesn’t decide who you are or what it is. Mircea Cartarescu’s novel Blinding is a pretty good example.

Install view of, La Jolla Reading Room, Athenaeum Music and Arts Library, 2022. Photo courtesy of eleet warez.

3. What motivates you in times of self-doubt?

The process. I mean, you know, art is faith. You get in up in the morning, surprise yourself. “Did I write that? What the hell does that mean?” 

I also trust language to carry me through. Isn’t it wonderful, how language is both yours and everyone’s? It’s truly one of the great mysteries. The very oldness of words – the patina, the terrible dust they gather – they always bring me back to the fundamentals. If I have a bad day of working – for instance, today I’ve been obsessing over a single sentence, and haven’t quite figured it out – I know that the language, with its ancient push and pull of sense and nonsense, rules and lawlessness, will ultimately decide the right shape.  

But don’t get me wrong. I decide to quit writing and making art every day. Then something clicks, and I just kinda keep going.

Install view of, If it were possible to collect all navels of the world and present them on the steps to ASCENSION, 2018. Photo by Karen Asher.

4. What’s the best advice you have ever received?

I learn how to be an artist from reading, listening to music, and looking at art, so I just try to understand how work that moves me is built. Rather than advice, I just study.

For instance, from musicians I learn how to set up a gestural pattern and blow it up; from painters, I learn how to create visual rhythms and consider edges, from poets (too many to name) I learn how to follow my ears and speak against the lies of reality, and from sculptors I learn to love materials and get acquainted with my hands.

Install view of, Terma, Images from the Ear or Groin or Somewhere, John and Geraldine Lilley Museum of Art, 2019. Photo courtesy of The Lilley Museum

5. What subject is the hardest for you to write about?



Jared Stanley is a poet and writer who often works with visual artists. His primary interest is in the intersection of lyric poetry, landscape, and the vernacular, ever-shifting ground of language as it changes through migration, environment, and technology. He is the author of three collections of poetry, EARS (Nightboat, 2017), The Weeds, (Salt, 2012), and Book Made of Forest (Salt, 2009). Recent artwork has been exhibited at the Athenaeum Music and Art Library in La Jolla (with Matthew Hebert), Other Places Art Fair in San Pedro, Lilley Museum in Reno (with Sameer Farooq), Spring Break Art Fair in New York. Recent writing has appeared in Folder Magazine, Posit, and VOLT. Jared teaches poetry and creative writing in the MFA Program at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Aurelio is a self-published author and photographer currently based in Reno, Nevada. He runs a self-titled digital magazine whose focus is to share stories through photography.