• Nora Koch

Updated: Aug 15, 2019

March 7, 2019

We met the other night at a friend’s house to watch a video of a talk given in New York a week or so ago, about Andy Warhol (not my favorite artist by a long shot). For the first half of the talk I was wondering why in the world we were watching it and thinking “I don’t fit into this group after all.” 

The second half of the talk and this image changed my mind. I still don’t like Andy Warhol’s work much more than I did at the beginning of the talk, and I’m not sure many people will get beyond the apparent glibness of the image to the underlying possibilities, but I am now willing to try. I did find the evening very meaningful after all and enjoyed a great discussion with the group when the video was over. One person in particular made a point of stressing the importance of the modern images superimposed on the image of the last supper.

I think, when addressing Warhol, it is important to keep in mind that he was first a commercial artist. This fact made a difference back then. I'm not sure it does now.

The three modern (for then), images superimposed on top of the cartoon of the last supper have meaning relating to the Davinci painting. The dove is fairly obvious – a reference to the Holy Spirit and the GE with three swirls,  was logically explained as a reference to the Trinity and “bringing good things to life”. But the speaker didn’t adequately explain the 59 cents in the upper left. 

I’d known for years that Warhol was a practicing Catholic; the fact that I kept thinking about it the next day indicates that his art has something to teach me. 

To keep this brief, I believe the 59 cents refers to Judas’ great deal

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  • Nora Koch

Updated: Aug 15, 2019

February 8, 2019

When I first set type any excuse would do. The simple fact of setting led type and then printing it was mesmerizing. So, at the workshop I attended we cut pieces out of the newspaper and re-set them as Dada poems. Knowing that I was safe doing so and that I would appear hip, I cut up into pieces a story on something about the Roman Catholic church. I titled the poem Rome Again. This was based upon the order in which I’d picked up the words cut from the article.

It was a long stretch from that pithy poem and my trivializing of the Roman Catholic Church to my current faith, including faith in the church herself. Only grace can account for it. 

It began in 1978, on my drive home from the two-week intensive all-day group counseling in which I was engaged as I struggled to cope with being married to an active Alcoholic. Back then there were numerous facilities for people such as myself and the program I was in dramatically changed my life for the better. I was learning the basics of Alanon and was stuck on step three: "Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him." This now baffles me, as I’d been raised in a practicing Christian home; apparently, I’d never considered that God could have an active hand in my life.

As I drove from New Richmond, WI, south on HWY 65, suddenly it came to me: “Nora, there is not going to be any light from heaven, this is simply going to take a lot of hard work.” Ironically, whenever I recall that moment, I recall a light coming into my car, from heaven. 

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  • Nora Koch

Updated: Aug 15, 2019

February 7, 2019

Toads played a large part in our life on the farm. Our house surrounded by large trees, made the foundation a natural place for them to congregate. On the back porch, we kept a 50-gallon cast iron kettle, filled with several inches of sand. My sisters and I, and guests from time to time, circled round the house, collecting as we went and deposited tiny toads into the cauldron. By the end of the day there were hundreds of the tiny little creatures hopping around in there.

Our sand box sat below a large maple tree. It was an 8 x 8 foot wooden square replenished each year with fresh sand from down the road, around the corner on the way to Moose Lake, directly south of our farm. It was always fun to go with Dad to get it. He pulled a trailer behind the car and filled it up at the sand pit. The sand was beautifully fine and pale. It worked well for constructing bridges and buildings with elaborate stairways. We created landscapes for the toads that filled the entire sand box. It was complete when there was no room left for us.

Sometimes Mom and Dad would allow us to run water from a hose into one side of the sandbox and out the other to fill the riverbed we’d fashioned through the landscape. As water does, it created beautiful twisting mini sandbars. This image came back to me years later as I found sand-formed beauty in photos of Icelandic alluvial plains. We used carrot tops for willows and branches from Mom’s shrubs for other trees. Then we introduced the animation – toads! For an afternoon, this was their habitat. They hopped over bridges, up steps, into this magical place, and then we let them go.

The toad fetish didn’t restrict itself to home. At our church, St. Peter’s Lutheran, four miles away, were window wells hosting tiny toads and occasional frightening snakes! When Sunday school got out we kids would high tail it outside and leap into the wells to collect as many toads as possible before Mom and Dad came to pick us up. I have a vivid memory of my sister Janis leaping into a well in her princess styled coat.

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