Color + the Body
New Poems for Deanna Sirlin's Exhibition Wavelength
Elevate Atlanta at Chastain Gallery of the Mayor's Office of Cultural Affairs, City of Atlanta, Georgia
October 1, 2022
Sharrif Simmons, E.Hughes, Melba Joyce Boyd, Charleen McClure, Andrea Jurjević and Opal Moore
Any Day Now
by Sharrif Simmons
What sound is thrumming in these colors,
I hear through my eyes
Inspired by blue strokes,
Imagining moments to come,
Anticipating the next layer,
The warm yellow,
Streaking across the middle,
Like a slow melody,
Moving my fingers over steel strings.
The static image resonates with music,
A sound I know.
Orange arrives like new sunlight,
At the base of the frame,
A sudden horizon,
Rising through dark lines, reappearing at its peak, completing a cycle of days.
What we don't see is all there,
Just out of sight,
A palette of colors,
Wet brushes, dipped in acrylic, moving across blank spaces,
Illustrating urgent marks, placed perfectly where they belong.
It all feels pressing, a warning in bright colors,
Arriving as melody on my guitar.
What is her warning?
Maybe the weather
Maybe the economy
Maybe the collapse of democracy,
The stolen legacies, the war, the racism, the inequality.
Or maybe, it’s the hope change will arrive,
Any Day Now.
Sharrif Simmons with Any Day Now, 2022, Acrylic on canvas,14 x 11 inches
Deanna Sirlin, Any Day Now, 2022,Acrylic on canvas,14 x 11 inches
We Have Made a Bed of This Landscape—
Ekphrasis of Long For, 2020
by E. Hughes
The colors of our bodies—red, Klein blue sinking
into black. This is every bed peopled by the weight
of love, sagging in the middle, submitting to the will
of time. It doesn’t matter if we were here or not—
we attain no speech in this desire. Instead, we burst
like black at sunrise. Light’s golden will—a stroke of
god—is not the prosody of night, is not what we have
come to this bed to achieve.
Look at me—
through this imperfect line of passion. I am gone
in the weight of your body. I am gone in the mouth
of your violet touch. This sequence is all I can manage
of love—the failure of my body to reach you in this
horizon. My desire the vertical ghost interrupting this
pattern of color.
In this bed—
we are a sermon forgone of speech. We are this
landscape forgone of distinction. What are we
if the mountains disappear? If the trees walk
happily into unmeaning? If we call every sound
we make in this bed ocean?
E Hughes with Long For, 2020, Acrylic on canvas, 84 x 60 inches
Deanna Sirlin, Long For, 2020, Acrylic on canvas, 84 x 60 inches
Deanna Sirlin, Hello Hello, 2020, Acrylic on canvas, 84 x 60 inches
Wavelengths Inside Sunsets on Lake Huron
by Melba Joyce Boyd
colors of Black space
enveloping a planet,
a spectrum of
light and sight.
blades of grass,
of green space,
the black valence
a sunset sinking
water line of
Lake Huron as
as space frames
the moon refracting
to hunt prey,
as we huddle
to protect our
in the dark.
and green springs
belief in rebirth
when yellow light
returns at sunrise
to assure and
to affirm us.
Melba Joyce Boyd with Hello Hello , 2020, Acrylic on canvas, 84 x 60 inches
Each color is a wave, a language, the totality of them—the ever-
rising and falling bariolage of tongues—is an ocean.
And what’s there but to swim—propel the body through
the reticent waters of teal, the chanting of chartreuse,
the prattle of purple and the professions of saffron,
the vesper of the burning sunset and the midnight moan.
Swim that communion of color and thousandword,
where you end and I begin in an ever-shifting ripple.
Color inscribes itself. It’s like this: we made blue love
on a blue bed to a blue song in a roomful of blue.
And beyond the swaying bluegrass bloomed a blue cloud.
The sea holly spiked and the muscadine swelled into speech.
The Red Sea and the Black Sea folded into themselves, one blue
wave into another. The sea willed the blue, so much blue:
mouthfuls of mussels, heartblue seabirds, the ransom of rain.
Roadside chicory rayed a fiesta of blue petals and the unbent irises
stuck their blue tongues out and harmonized: azul, modrý, goluboy,
γαλάζιο, σκούρο μπλε. Even the limestone turned blue.
And tomorrow, under the sky full of weather, we’ll dive off
the cragged turquoise, bathe in the clear opal.
Andrea Jurjević with Language, 2022, Acrylic on canvas, 14 x 11 inches
Deanna Sirlin, Language, 2022, Acrylic on canvas, 14 x 11 inches
Riders on the Storm
I was drawn, I suppose,
by touch, which had no color
and shadow beneath each stroke
the river pulled through my hand.
my gaze drifted
toward the hills, loosely gathered
like strangers—lilac, cerulean, violet;
looking pass their shoulders, I watch them
thinking of birds on a shore,
waiting for a thought in the wind
to break them apart
to lift them up all at once.
Charleen McClure with Hello Hello 2020, Acrylic on canvas, 84 x 60 inches
Deanna Sirlin, Riders on the Storm, 2020, Acrylic on canvas, 84 x 60 inches
For Deanna Sirlin’s To Be and Been To
(a poem in two parts)
My first painting teacher was color blind. All his canvases were green.
Made this Chicago girl think of landscapes I’d never seen, or ever would see
yet I saw his endless meadows full of grasses waving this way, that way.
could his spectrum-robbed eyes see in all that green-apple green, his yellow
waves of grain and fruited plains—no poke salad or collard—no
black soil hid beneath, unseen—no seedling Eve unfurling, apple
her virgin seed of arsenic fermenting. I don’t wonder if my artist-
teacher can see me through his color-blind eyes, see green girl dreams of
a she even she’s never seen—might ever see—a paintbox
yet unexplored, poured onto the floor of her lithe mind where
her bright footmarks make conjure of light, make conjure
of the body, colors christened after the sounds of her laughter
One day I would hear of a girl named Khalo—and re-name the color red.
I failed ‘color wheel’. My world is one continent shook loose into
Bintu is a name for the fragmented African
who went from village to London NY California Chicago.
If you Bintu the world is a painted meadow
of green, money-green green.
Color of got to. Color of made it.
Color of forgetful spring and all new things.
But if you Bintu, blue is body. Memory of all we did not afford
your blue body is archive hitched to moon tide
to bird that sings midnight like a clock strikes a blues-blue,
a black-blue water music of goodbye, your hello.
You will look one day for the color blue, for the path that spirit travels
back to banyan. I look, and all our shores are the inside-pink
of abandoned seashells, shores windswept green as meadow
in spring, a brand-new thing, waves of grain leaning this way and that
as far as the eye can sing.
Opal Moore with To Be, 2020, Acrylic on canvas, 84 x 60 inches
Deanna Sirlin, To Be, 2020, Acrylic on canvas, 84 x 60 inches
Deanna Sirlin, Been To, 2022, Acrylic on canvas, 14 x 11 inches