The knowledge I absorb in class has recently spurred me to attempting a project of this scope.
It is not uncommon for me to leave the classroom with my head working furiously, attempting to piece together the significance of my little fragmented insights. And yet, as soon as my busy life calls for my attention, I drop these puzzle pieces in my head, promising to revisit them and never deliver on my word.
I have decided to deliver.
In Urban Geography class today, my Professor exhibited Jacob Lawrence’s fantastic artwork to complement his lecture.
The beauty and dynamism of these images forces me to pay attention.
I am no expert in art theory, but to me, the magnetism of each painting comes from its bold color, and particularly the use of darkness.
The more I think about it, the more i feel it is deeply related to the color of skin.
Classical artwork tends to radiate a paleness – unsurprising, given that most of its subjects are of that color.
Here, however, there are no particulars, no specific features, no minute details,
only the potential of movement and a huge surge of it at that.

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With a heavy and heartbreaking history of Black struggle,these images force an impression,
of  deep and bitter brokenness,
but deeper resilience and strength.

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The line in between is something I understand, and something I don’t understand.
I often wonder if the line is gone at all and it causes a deep anger inside me…
that such lines exist, running across time, space and cultures.

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It causes a shift of focus however, as I begin to examine my contribution – am I holding up the line or am I taking it down? Am i merely looking over or am I crossing it?
Each window frames a silent existence.

The faceless, voiceless many who are moving and moving, toward hope, toward betterment, toward freedom, toward truth.

I would express how I feel about this painting, but that feeling is stuck in my throat.

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These pieces apparently are on display at MOMA. Maybe someday I’ll be able to see them firsthand.

*Images stolen from my Professor’s lecture slides.

Posted by:jasmine

Jasmine is an editor, poet, and community arts organizer. She comes to poetry by way of Chinese music. This blog is a mapping of ways.

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