Liz Volpi

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Oldie but goodie.


Poem Illustration from 2014

Remember that first thing you were proud to say you created in the formative era of your career, despite it being relatively amateur? This is that project for me. In school, we were challenged to illustrate a poem of our choosing in one panel and to vectorize it in Illustrator.

I decided to depict one of my favorites: Emily Dickinson's "I heard a fly buzz when I died..." You can read the poem in full here.

Design Rationale

The poem focuses on physical aspects of death without feeling dark or ominous, which reminded me of Día de los Muertos and the tradition of decorating calaveras (skull representations) with bright floral patterns. Hence, I decorated my subject in a crown of flowers.

Dickinson describes the moment of death in first person but uses past tense, indicating that the subject has moved on to another life. To illustrate that time has passed between death and the narrator's recount of it, I presented the subject as a skull. It features one open eye with a fly crawling onto it, representing her physical helplessness in that last moment of consciousness.