For the Asheville Art Museum Appalachian Now By Glenis Redmond
The opposite of remember is not to forget, but to dismember.
To know the now, we must understand the then–
not just the beauty of the blue ridge,
the majestic lumbering greens,
the eye-catching vistas,
but how the past crumples purples into a fist
that draws a line that severs–
keeps us one from another.
Ask the Cherokee, the Coosa, the Choctaw
the Muskogee and the Algonquin.
Ask the poor white pioneer
and the manacled and shackled slave.
It is in bruised notes they sing
in the ballads and the blues–
the haunting strum of the dulcimer
and the echo tongue of the drums.
They draw you in and tell you
how the cruel axe falls.
Or, how tight the rope is strung.
The artist enters into the now
and nothing and no one escapes their eye–
nothing evades the heart–
no matter how troubling–
no matter how terrific.
The artists finds a way to show us on canvas, in clay,
with metal, with glass, with paint,
with tools, with camera or a brush and pins.
Pushes us beyond.
The artist did not come to make
anyone comfortable not even themselves.
So, they wake us with each piece they make–
hoping we enter into these halls
able to see ourselves–
in each piece reflecting what’s been dismembered.
Follow the spiral of the clouds, the river and the road.
They never ask are we one?
Because even when halved by the horizon
they know we are whole–
the struggle is in the stitching.
We radically defy with love,
when we tell our stories in these halls.
The nugget is in everyone–
to see ourselves in each other:
We become one.
This is our task.