This year the colours of autumn are as beautiful as ever. But the rhythm of the year seems so disrupted by the coronavirus and climate crisis in so many places. This year the colours of fall seem to invite one in. I return, like the seasons, to drawing parks, morning glories, evening skies, and of course, the little mews/muse! Like so many artists of colour in Canada and the USA, I join a commitment to witness both the beauty and hard times we are all going through. Resistance does not always have to be confrontation, though that too has its moments. In daily life, taking the time to feel and see the world–both inner and outer– has joined the weekly practice of the continuing semi-isolation of the coronavirus. I share some recent pieces below.
Taking a break from the mental ethos of quarantine and isolation. Escaping into colour, which can feel like another dimension, away from the uncertainties of these days. Boredom, hunger, homelessness, and fear have gone viral, depending on one’s social location. And in the midst of so much callous disregard for the plight of the world’s vulnerable populations, spring is fighting to be born in the northern hemisphere. Climate conditions predict an active summer for storms and hurricanes, but the colours of spring flowers, a May twilight, birds and animals are still here to be enjoyed while we can. I was rereading old poetry to take some time out of the news and more “weighty” topics. I came across a poem, I seem to remember reading in primary school…Fitting, for an intermission from all things exploitative and cruel, like public policies that put profit before people!
Color BY CHRISTINA ROSSETTI What is pink? a rose is pink By a fountain’s brink. What is red? a poppy’s red In its barley bed. What is blue? the sky is blue Where the clouds float thro’. What is white? a swan is white Sailing in the light. What is yellow? pears are yellow, Rich and ripe and mellow. What is green? the grass is green, With small flowers between. What is violet? clouds are violet In the summer twilight. What is orange? Why, an orange, Just an orange!
While the Coronavirus, Covid 19, lays bare all our inequities and fears, spring is still springing in the Northern hemisphere. Bit by bit, crocuses and bulbs are beginning their annual preening, though this year, it seems they have less admiring audiences as the streets are more empty than I’ve ever seen them. Ever so gradually, the tiniest of brown and green fuzz sprouting on tree branches and bushes will uncurl to show the little green of newly born leaves.
Like the poet Adrienne Rich exhorted us so many years ago, we must “dream of a common language” in the face of this pandemic. A pandemic whose elite narratives exclude and disregard the vast plight of world humanity. Our common language must include compassion, humanity, mercy, and kindness for the most vulnerable during these terrible times. Unemployment, food insecurity, lack of housing, the loss of loved ones, lack of access to widespread testing, the uncertainty of various social messages about how to best protect ourselves; these are truly sad and sometimes, enraging, times.
And yet, in spite of all that naked greed has done to devastate our surroundings, the earth is still here, beneath my feet when I go for my solitary walk. Birds and urban mammals are rejoicing. Bird song is louder than it’s been in the city! This is a visual piece, a homage to our planet, whose beauty can give us something to strive for, when the social order seems senseless…