by Stephanie Ellis Schlaifer
A genie of suggestion and evocation, Stephanie Schlaifer handles the half-said and, even more important, the half-unsaid with an acrobatic delicacy. The most daily objects—sugar, fog—are recombined into an unprecedented domesticity in which the foreign, the strange, the uncanny are perfectly at home. Vivid and multiplicitous, it’s a beautiful book that keeps on opening. – Cole Swensen
Stephanie Schlaifer’s Cleavemark is a world, as any faithful and close record of the movements of a mind and body among minds and bodies must be—really, it’s a world containing worlds. Stop reading this and read “Tender” instead, and you’ll see what I mean. There and throughout Cleavemark, Schlaifer, wasting not a single word or gesture, and yet with great generosity, gives us, as she herself writes, “all the house in happiness and death.” – Shane McCrae
Cleavemark is a work of fragments that has the sense of being an erasure of itself. Lyric pieces of domestic detail are warped around a danger that is never quite revealed. "Everything at rest is glass / or iron; fists and matches," Schlaifer writes in this work that is a house built atop a bed of copperheads. – Arielle Greenberg
A video walk-through of the collaborative installation by Stephanie Ellis Schlaifer and Cheryl Wassenaar at the Fort Gondo Compound for the Arts (fall 2014), based on Schlaifer's manuscript Cleavemark. The soundtrack includes Schlaifer's reading of several poems used in the exhibit ("Everything You Want to Know About Dishes," "When the Eye Saw It Appeared," "Upwards," and "Elevation: West," as well as some sound elements from the exhibit, including a 1960s recording of Clarence Ashley's rendition of "Wayfaring Pilgrim" and a reading of Psalm 61. The text, visually reinterpreted by Wassenaar in cut vinyl lettering, comes from Schlaifer's poems. Sculptural objects are covered in, made from, or altered by sugar, pickling salt, or soap.