Sierra Nelson & Loren Erdrich

Loren and Sierra met while both working at the Vermont Studio Center during 1-year artist-staff residencies; our studios were right next to each other. We were excited about trying a collaboration between Sierra's poems and Loren’s drawings – and our lyrical choose-your-own-adventure chapbook grew out of that. All of the drawings (primarily ink and watercolor) are Loren’s, some of the poems are written solely by Sierra, and some of the poems were written collaboratively by both of us specifically for the project. Each drawing and poem also comes with a choice between two sound-alike words, with strange and lovely definitions borrowed from a 1900’s spelling book. The pairing of the images in conversation with the poems, plus the mapping of the book’s meandering structure, was all a collaborative process as well. 

The book is titled I Take Back the Sponge Cake, and the project is a recent recipient of NYU’s Washington Square Prize for Collaboration. The name of our collaboration: Invisible Seeing Machine.

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Loren Erdrich is a visual artist working in drawing, sculpture, performance and video.  She received her MFA from the Burren College of Art and the National University of Ireland.  She has exhibited across the United States and internationally, both individually and as part of the CultureLab Collective and GalleryELL, Brooklyn.  Loren currently lives and works in New York City.  Please see more of her work at

Sierra Nelson
’s poems have appeared in journals such as Poetry Northwest, Forklift Ohio, Diagram, and Mare Nostrum, as well as on a Seattle Metro bus placard. As co-founder of the collaborative teams The Typing Explosion ( and the Vis-à-Vis Society (, she has written and performed nationally and internationally. Nelson is currently a commissioned guest writer for The Kenyon Review blog and lives in Seattle.