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Posts Tagged ‘Maya Angelou’


A BRAVE AND STARTLING TRUTH

We, this people, on a small and lonely planet
Traveling through casual space
Past aloof stars, across the way of indifferent suns
To a destination where all signs tell us
It is possible and imperative that we learn
A brave and startling truth

And when we come to it
To the day of peacemaking
When we release our fingers
From fists of hostility
And allow the pure air to cool our palms

When we come to it
When the curtain falls on the minstrel show of hate
And faces sooted with scorn are scrubbed clean
When battlefields and coliseum
No longer rake our unique and particular sons and daughters
Up with the bruised and bloody grass
To lie in identical plots in foreign soil

When the rapacious storming of the churches
The screaming racket in the temples have ceased
When the pennants are waving gaily
When the banners of the world tremble
Stoutly in the good, clean breeze

When we come to it
When we let the rifles fall from our shoulders
And children dress their dolls in flags of truce
When land mines of death have been removed
And the aged can walk into evenings of peace
When religious ritual is not perfumed
By the incense of burning flesh
And childhood dreams are not kicked awake
By nightmares of abuse

When we come to it
Then we will confess that not the Pyramids
With their stones set in mysterious perfection
Nor the Gardens of Babylon
Hanging as eternal beauty
In our collective memory
Not the Grand Canyon
Kindled into delicious color
By Western sunsets

Nor the Danube, flowing its blue soul into Europe
Not the sacred peak of Mount Fuji
Stretching to the Rising Sun
Neither Father Amazon nor Mother Mississippi who, without favor,
Nurture all creatures in the depths and on the shores
These are not the only wonders of the world

When we come to it
We, this people, on this minuscule and kithless globe
Who reach daily for the bomb, the blade and the dagger
Yet who petition in the dark for tokens of peace
We, this people on this mote of matter
In whose mouths abide cankerous words
Which challenge our very existence
Yet out of those same mouths
Come songs of such exquisite sweetness
That the heart falters in its labor
And the body is quieted into awe

We, this people, on this small and drifting planet
Whose hands can strike with such abandon
That in a twinkling, life is sapped from the living
Yet those same hands can touch with such healing, irresistible tenderness
That the haughty neck is happy to bow
And the proud back is glad to bend
Out of such chaos, of such contradiction
We learn that we are neither devils nor divines

When we come to it
We, this people, on this wayward, floating body
Created on this earth, of this earth
Have the power to fashion for this earth
A climate where every man and every woman
Can live freely without sanctimonious piety
Without crippling fear

When we come to it
We must confess that we are the possible
We are the miraculous, the true wonder of this world
That is when, and only when
We come to it.

–Maya Angelou


I needed something with hope this morning, something not wrought of despair. I need something on a higher plane today, being as I am, so tired of hearing from the hate-filled people, as the late poet Maya Angelou put so well in a certain poem: whose mouths abide cankerous words/ Which challenge our very existence.

That is from the poem above, A Brave and Startling Truth. Maya Angelou wrote this piece in 1995 in specifically for the commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the United Nations. The video below is her reading of the poem at that event.

Hope it lifts you a little higher today.


 

 

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“The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”

Maya Angelou, All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes

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This painting, Nestledown, 18″ by 26″ on paper, is part pf my current show at the West End Gallery, It has the feel of some of my older work with its simple design and spew lines at the edges where the paint has broke free of the picture plane. This gives it a feeling of finding a place of comfort in my eyes, one of security where you can let down your guard a bit.

This feeling is enhanced for me by the multicolored patches of color in the foreground. While they remind me of a patchwork quilt there is something else in the quality of the color that heightens the feeling, something I couldn’t put my finger on for quite some time after I painted this piece. It came to me the other day when I was looking at a book of work by the painter Egon Schiele.

This piece reminded me of one of his paintings, Agony, from 1912, shown here on the right. It shows a person wrapped in a patchwork quilt with a monk laying next to them, his own robe serving as blanket of comfort. As soon as I saw this piece I saw how the oranges, yellows, and reds of its quilt related to the colors in my painting. They provided much the same service in both paintings, creating warmth and security.

I wasn’t surprised by seeing this link. I have long admired the work of Schiele, especially the way he treated his colors, imbuing even the brightest colors with dark undertones. This creates a depth and gravity of feeling that transcends the color itself. This is something I attempted to adapt for my own process many years ago, something that I consider a major turning point in the evolution of my work.

This painting wasn’t consciously in mind when I painted Nestledown but it certainly echoed somehow in memory. And finding comfort in times of trial and agony is a thread that runs through this show. It’s something that hits close to home  both as a nation, as we suffer through the multitude of ills that plague us at present, and as an individual as my family deals with the last days of my father’s life.

We all just want to find a bit of comfort, a place where we can nestle down.

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Now We Know

This quote from the poet Maya Angelou has been floating around for some time. I think it’s a pretty powerful statement of a universal truth, especially on this particular morning.

Though there was never much doubt, we all positively now know what we are dealing with in this country.

Call it what you will– racism, nativism, moral bankruptcy and an ignorance of history along with a general lack of intelligence– but it sure as hell isn’t patriotism. No, this morning the mask is completely off and the barely disguised dog whistles have become megaphones.

And those that respond to the call of that megaphone can no longer claim they don’t know. By standing with this administration, they are revealing who they really are.

And when they show me who they are, I will believe them.

No doubt at all.

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GC Myers Home+Land smThe ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.

–Maya Angelou

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This is the title painting, Home+Land,  for my next solo show which opens July 17 at the West End Gallery in Corning.  It’s a pretty large painting at 36″ high  by 48″ wide on canvas and one that fairly represents my feelings on how we are tied to the land, how we identify home with a sense of place.  This is the theme for this show as well as for much of my work in general.

I have long equated the idea of home with the landscape, with how we are shaped by those places that we know from an early age.  The rhythm, the shapes and the perspectives of the landscape that surrounds us becomes part of who we are , something that travels with us throughout our lives. Wherever we go, we look for similarities to that feeling of our home landscape.

It might be in the actual landforms or the way in which the vegetation interacts with the land and the structures of the homes there. It simply looks like home.  Or it might be just in the way the light strikes the land or the rhythm and flow of movement within the landscape that create a level of comfort that equates to that feeling of home.

I know, for myself, that there have been places where I have been where the landscape has been so different from the hills and fields surrounding my original home yet I still feel a sense of being at home.  And there are other places that, while similar in shape and having beauty and charms of their own, leave me uneasy and feeling out of place.  And there are places in which I immediately feel out of place in an alien way, places to which I could never fully adapt.  Definitely not at home.

I guess what I am trying to say is that home is a mix of feeling and place.  It is that place where you feel as comfortable and satisfied in place as the Red Tree in the painting above.

 

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