Archive for September 30th, 2014

Into the Common Ground/ GC MyersCommon Ground

Blood tells the story of your life
in heartbeats as you live it;
bones speak in the language
of death, and flesh thins
with age when up
through your pores rises
the stuff of your origin.

These days,
when I look in the mirror I see
my grandmother’s stern lips
speaking in parentheses at the corners
of my mouth of pain and deprivation
I have never known. I recognize
my father’s brows arching in disdain
over the objects of my vanity, my mother’s
nervous hands smoothing lines
just appearing on my skin,
like arrows pointing downward
to our common ground.

–Judith Ortiz Cofer


The painting above, a 36″ by 36″ canvas, is titled Into the Common Ground.  It is part of my exhibit of the same name that will open in early December at the Kada Gallery in Erie, PA.  I think the poem above from author Judith Ortiz Cofer fits very well with the theme of this show which is about recognizing the common bonds that are between us.

It seems that our world has become more and more fractured, the distance between people growing greater even as the world itself seems to be shrinking in so many ways.  We actively seek to find difference, something that distinguishes us from others.  And while I am an advocate of the individual and individualism, it should not come at the expense of losing the ability to identify the commonality that exists in all of us.  For to look in that mirror, as Cofer does in her poem, and not see the traces of your family and the influences of others written on your face is to lose empathy.

When empathy leaves, we fail to see the sufferings of others as our own, fail to imagine that such things could ever occur to ourselves.  The pain of others becomes dull and distant, unfelt to us as selfishness and greed pushes our empathy aside.  To lose empathy is to choose to live in a savage and ugly world.

And that is not the world that I see in this painting.

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