by Kamaria Shepherd
I want to die. I think of the pursed lips of my mouth as I look at the almost useless contents of my purse, contents that should be private and tell the identity of a woman but mine feels irrelevant. I don’t care if the contents remain private but many think that I do. Whomever they encompass sees me as this sneaky lying and secretive juvenile that I have never been. Even as a child I did not lie but the world says I am liar. I am lying about being beautiful, pure, and womanly. As a black woman my own hair follicles growing from my scalp are questioned, my behind assumed to be injected in order to be full as white women are praised for the behinds which they truly do not have and are imitating black women with when they attempt to fill their behinds. White women also wear weaves unchallenged. Whenever my nails are long I must be a ghetto queen with press on nails and a bun in the oven by an undesirable because we are undesirable as women unless we have socially and economically beaten the man we choose as a mate as if one is the mule they were on the planation. Aren’t I a woman? I am not lying about that as well so why am I treated as a male? My grandmother wants to be young. It is hell to know that when I look at my American Girl Addy doll that I have not moved passed where she remains in the world of oppression, slavery, and the impossibility of being who I truly am as I am enslaved by mistruths about my kind, misunderstandings about myself and a lack of compassion, support, or empathy. I have crossed the Mississippi physically but not mentally, as I always seem to end as a black bean whenever I circle to a different side within myself. I am look down upon, small, and unable to grow if I am not planted but refuse to be planted within a small pot but rather in a large pit of dark soil full of ancestral bones so that I grow from the many seeds and wombs that have brought me into existence. I only felt closer to this dream when Beyoncé wore a Gucci dress similar to Addy during a music video about black female empowerment, I use the word female with conviction as all females are not women although black children are often advanced to being looked at as women and less innocent when they are still unknowing babes. It was done to me. I also use the word female as it is medical and sterile from being woman as that identity of being a pure woman being is questioned or rather not respected by many especially the emasculated men which choose not to push and continue to hold the leaning pillar in position. Child have, are and will struggle because of this and the high end designer Gucci dress, which is actually a skirt and blouse, worn a light skin black woman superstar. She is still black and finally slave and has not left the position either. We are stuck in the life of an unbelieved truthful lie. Oxymoron. Yes, morons. When I open my tongue to speak it is as if I am being tested for truth and I hesitate because I know whatever I begin to say will be misunderstood, misconstrued and scraped from my brain like pate on bread. I don’t want to exist but I don’t really exist as I have never lived and am only seen when my presence is a force to be noticed. There she is over there, say something snarky, she has to have someone somewhere. There is always someone somewhere as mysterious as myself but I am not mysterious. I am tired of the expression and wish I could be the weird that I don’t enjoy but somehow seems to find a place in this burning pit of trauma that we call earth. Why do some old wish for youth? It annoys me to hear my grandmother constantly whine for plump skin, pulpy breasts and a face freshen from the walls of another woman’s womb. I have the body she wanted as a young woman. Was it really that wonderful? Based on my current state that is not current as it has been the same my entire life I would like to experience being a an old pruned woman with the bowl of prunes I used to snack on as a child. Dried life, the wrinkles from once ripe fruit is sweeter when dried, raisin, dried apricots, give you one last burst of condensed and full sweetness to the tongue before they are inedible. The end seems desirable. I have a full life before I can taste the fullness of life.
My work deals with the sweetness of life and the understanding of life through language sound and color much like described in “Concerning the Spirituality in Art” by Wassily Kandinsky. In the introduction translated by M.T.H. Sadler it is written, “Kandinsky is painting music. That is to say, he has broken down the barrier between music and painting, and has isolated the pure emotion which, for want of a better name, we call artistic emotion.” I paint my emotions, which change from painting to painting or remain the same or change from painting session to session. It is not mean to be blatant but is not trying to be mysterious or misunderstood. I am not contrived and never have been and neither is my work. It is misunderstood and that is part of its purpose to remain an anomaly, as I can’t cease to stop being so I have decided to stop fighting and am now letting the work breath to somehow accomplish these goals. I cannot stand in a museum to be examined daily, for hours, but my work can. It is a stand in for my own identity and myself but much like music cannot sufficiently be put into words. People become frustrated because they want easy satisfaction and bodily fulfillment in this technological circuit board hell that we exist within. People cannot get to slowly know someone, only hams that spill all of themselves in under a minute, when one speaks it is timed, we are judged by how we look in a slither of time. The whole pie but only half a slice to determine the credibility of the cook. There are apps and websites for instant sexual gratification whether pornographic or an actual human being showing at one’s door, not restricted to prostitutes but this type of behavior is not expected and common for normal people. Thus, I should give all of myself to someone after a second of “knowing” the person; People say they know or are friends with someone after speaking in a single conversation. Time is lazy and sloppy and visual art is stuck within the same pyridine, with an allotted time view and analyze. My work is meant to be slow to understand and process and analyze and it may never be possible as they are people themselves. Sadler continues, ‘the effect of music is too subtle for words. And the same time with this painting of Kandinsky’s. Speaking for myself, to stand in front of some of his drawings or pictures gives a keener and more spiritual pleasure than any other kind of painting. Presumably the lines and colors have the same effect as harmony and rhythm in music have on the truly musical.” I play the paintbrush.
I play the paintbrush.
I play the paintbrush.
I play the paintbrush.
I play the emotions.
My instrument as the paintbrush or roller is like the role of the hair brush or the hair roller to one’s hair, it manipulates the surface to give the desired presence of an individual, for one to see one a painting or person as they want to be seen and defined and in a way my paintings are personifications of people, true, created, myself. I paint abstract forms and shapes, which come from letters from Italian, English, and Egyptian hieroglyphics and from the forms of the human body, my body, and the clothes, and textures, and patterns, which cover them. I also use ready-made objects, which reference associations from childhood and emotion but are not meant to be read literally like “Clifford the Big Red Dog” but metaphorically like the works of Dr. Seuss. These objects include small plastic balls of artificial colors and cheap party supplies used mostly for their color and form than personal association. I plan to also experiment with sound alongside my paintings and audio readings of my poetic writings and possibly printouts of these works in large colored lyrical form on the walls across from more traditional made paintings on paper and wood. As material I also use, acrylic, gouache, and fabric. Sadler “hails Kandinsky, as a visual musician.” Kamaria is a visual musician.