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Invisible at ArtYard

One dozen artists making visible the invisible. Making emotionally palpable the reverberations we all have felt. Bringing to life the lives that have left an imprint and examining what the author Svetlana Alexievich calls “the missing history — the invisible imprint of our stay on Earth and in time.”

The following is the first of a series, a collection of my notes, for what is to be a three monthlong exhibition and presentation at ArtYard.

Invisible is curated by Jill Kearney.

Inspired by the words that Svetlana Alekseevich wrote within a documentary novel on the aftermath of a nuclear disaster, Chernobyl Prayer, Invisible also concerns itself with “the ‘missing history’, the invisible imprint of our stay on earth and in time.”

Jill Kearney has chosen artists whose work examines “omitted histories, imperceptible forces, and unspoken narratives which render[s] that which is apparent, misleading, or incomplete.” To illuminate such imperceptible forces during these unprecedented times of volatility is both courageous and characteristic of ArtYard’s mission, and a welcome meditation on what connects us all.

There is so much being said within each piece, by each artist, that one could spend many quiet moments, and many introspective visits within Invisible, and still feel there is more to learn, because, the more you take in, the more questions arise. I’ve decided to start on the first floor…

One. Kawita Vatanajyankur.

Where pop colors and vibrancy may dissuade the viewer from Kawita Vatanajyankur’s earnestness, spending time to witness her performances for any length of time, earnestness rings true, highlighted by the stark but bold backdrops. There is a voyeuristic awkwardness that may engulf you at first, watching these straightforward, but evocatively performed, tasks by the artist. In fact, the intimate humanity of what has often been called unskilled labor, is put very much to the forefront, and it will humble you.

If you’ve ever caught yourself daydreaming while washing the dishes, you can understand that the repetitive and seemingly futile action of tidying up, can induce the heart’s memory within a sensitive doer. Someone tasked to mop or broom a large office floor, for example, might bring with them their own unique personality and through that repetition be awakened to forgotten memories.

A mother’s mopping might yield a meditation on mourning a lost child, practically taking on the emotional burden of trauma in its physical form, where every step, stroke, and sweep of a mop can feel like trudging through with a veritable ghost on your shoulders.  

Vatanajyankur allows time to unfold rather slowly, the process to take on – in painstaking detail – the very effort it demands. Under an emotional microscope, where her entire body acts as both the task and the doer, the performances run the gamut from essentially mundane to sheer necessity. From dying yarn to weaving a loom, washing a floor to gathering packing and weighing produce – work that’s demanded on a constant basis. Dust, dirt, fabric, fruit. Explicitly performed with earnest fervor.

There is a stroke of endurance and performance art in both the making and the viewing, for these recorded and repeating acts take on new life in their detail and recontextualization, separating the human from the work, by ironically bringing the human to the work itself. What really happens behind the scenes? Before a scarf comes to a sales rack? After a long day at the office? Before colorful bounty reaches the table top? Before we consume, who contends with what needs to be created?

Two. Willie Cole’s “Beauties”

“Lucy” by Willie Cole

Portraits of five beloved women from Coke’s personal history cast as weathered ironing boards whose shapes evoke iconic maps of slave-ship holds.


Life-sized, charred, textured.
Stamped with burnt edges, embossed
Time and time again.

Could you tell who was lefthanded?
Could you tell who may have favored a sore back or shoulder?

The curve of a shoulder, a neck and back at work. Lovingly beset to beauty, rendering their memories whole — and part of a greater whole.

Where pressed white-collars-and-sleeves-steamed-and-starched go about the world with impeccability, there lies behind-and-underneath marks of work and will. Marks of time and effort.

Stepping back and seeing the whole picture… These outlines and marks seem like photographic negatives or remnants rich in the bloodstained hulls of Slave Ships, and the thousands of lives lost to a sinful system of systemic stealing and slaughter. The incendiary passage of time and space traversed by the hot irons of colonialism and chains of capitalism, forged link by link, to their cost-effective collateral damage of hypocritical hierarchy. Forever etched into the psyche of a nation, inextricably and indelibly linked.

Life-sized, charred, textured with burnt edges.
Stamped, burnt, embossed.
Time and time again.

“Lula Bell” by Willie Cole

Three. Sandra Ramos.

Notes on…

“The Hand of History.” Multimedia Installation. Soundtrack composed by Pavel Urkiza.

Copyright © 2022. Sandra Ramos

Antique desks “painted” in dusty chalk with chairs suspended in the air.

You are immediately transported into the back of a classroom with the inertia from the day still palpable in the air.  A surreal semblance of memories and magic.

Rhythmic transference keeps the atmosphere light not wistful, propelling us forward deeper into time into our own imaginations?

What would you write about? Who would you write about? Who makes a difference in your life? Who do you love? Why do you love them?

From the mouths of babes, in their own hands, there are drawings and essays.  They have shared their heroes with us and so should you.  Chalk and pencil lead. Aged wood and wrought iron. 

Something so fleeting and impermanent
With prospects to slip away from the present.
The permanence and prominence of digital media,
there is something indelible, intelligent, and earnest –
powerful about each story.

They are here –    
They are reactions to someone who has made a mark on the future.

Come and read why?  You might be surprised.

#Invisible @ArtYard #TheHandOfHistory

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Lines on remembering Salvador Dalí

Construction molle avec des haricots bouillis (Premonition de la guerre civile)

(Soft Construction with Boiled Bean [Premonition of Civil War])


When an artist sees the world, is there a certain sensitivity and openness they must possess to be a vehicle of truth and veritable muse all their own? In order to shine that certain light, from their unique vantage, must they first inhabit what they study, with all their attention and imagination as if to focus on their vision aside from all the rest?

Surely an artist should be ‘part and parcel’ of their own making, should ‘write what they know,’ and immerse themselves ‘in the world of the play,’ but what if their world is rife with pain and reeks of injustice. Should they share and shine a light? Splinter or refract, reflect or even revolt, against the truth that they face? Where there is hatred, should they show love? Where there is despair, hope?

To be a true vessel must artists carry the burden until the burden is shared? And after that, is their burden ever fully lifted? For once they have tasted form the tree of knowledge, it’s nearly impossible to let it go.

From a world turned upside down, to see their own few, futile, fleeting, feeble hands and eyes and hearts that seem caught up in the frenzy — of freedom and fancy, of destructive greed and disdain for their fellow peoples.

Are these artists, who cannot abide the world as it is, in their own way, trying to change the world through their art? Do they try to depict the chaos and suffering in the only way they know how? Utilizing quotidian or classical forms stretched and skewed to fit their arguments perhaps? Show me the end of the Realist paradigm in international politics and I’ll show you the rise of Dadaism and Surrealism, and incendiary points of view all their own, that we see all over the world in galleries brave enough to ask more questions then posit mere opinions.

And still they must persist, these first social practice artists, poking and prodding the expectations away from the cozy corner of complacency. Still they must fight against questions like: “What use does the pen have in the face of the sword? What will flecks of oil drying on a staunchly canvas and frilly fabric woven do to preserve the future of democracy?” Or should art be something more fierce and surgical in its delivery? Should it be more daring…? Does it only shine for those who care to see?

Of course art is as unique as the very humans that dare be called by their own imagination’s voice to come and be creative. And as such, luckily there are all kinds of art to be made.

Then what do you make? What are you called to make?

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“A containment, a threshold, a place to go…”

Notes on “Going to the Meadow”

Land locked and forlorn, the ink outlining the Great Lakes form a forgotten memory of “a beginning / end,” a memory or a friend. Like the moving Delaware, just beyond these window panes, this spot may feel familiar, but Her current is always moving and never quite the same.

Within the “source” there’s a “paradigm shift” threaded between a collective and community betwixt consumption and care.

The words speak loudly and concisely as well as consistently, as they seem to echo throughout Earthen materials, formed by human hands. Where bamboo, some still green, form the hull of a ship, lashings and loosely bound yarn and string and metal seem to support the whole of existence. From nature to mater to revolving stone. Forgotten earth and hidden truths, undone and revealing all the same.

Textiles and shed cotton take their place among wax imprints and metal structures, like candled memorials — a living memory, deconstructed.

Braided rope, and knotted line sustain this massive skeleton-like vessel. Like Queen Mab, who plats the manes of horses in the night, only to speak as well as spy, one can feel the power of life itself within wisps of lithesome mischief and merriment despite the evocation of daily toil. It’s only after we step back from the fray, perhaps imagining a grand ship alone on the waters of night… There we can sense (John Donne’s) “Break of Day” when those busied folk are found wanting. Those busy heads, whose love lies heavy in words of redress and regret. Those who only see, but never care to listen.

So, as these artists suggest, we should go on “experimenting with sideways witnessing” so I say, yes, and stay — go deep inside while we’re here. Or there. Wherever that place may be once the direction is clear. Or should we simply “be,” (as of it’s simple at all) amongst the collective memory and rage we all have felt. When the youthful smell of revolution seems to subside as faithfully as those aches take on deeper physical forms — from heartsick pangs to pain meds in hand — where do we stand, and from where do we gather, when we finally choose to be one among a many?

And if we are lucky enough to see our responsibility, do we have the ability to respond to what we collectively care about, that is to say, “care for?” Do we not see? That we whisper the same words of all that have come before, when we truly stop to listen?

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Notes from “Ancestral Lights” by Brian Sanders JUNK at ArtYard

Following the Light.

Starting on the lawn in the front “Yard” we go for a walk along the River. Grass to crushed stone. Oak trees and falling light. The Delaware was a quiet, but brilliant stunning sight. 

Circulating conveyor belt. People moving through the wreckage. Silently, a body pushes against the orbit which surrounds her. Seemingly unable to stand bound by steel and centripetal force. Inertia of any kind only governs matter, and not the mind and heart. Arching away, fighting, backing up and hearing, “Microphone check. Microphone check…” and the revolution has begun.

Entering the outside again. A new world.

Minor melodies chromatically invite us closer, and we gather ‘round the campfire while the musicians spin their yarn. The music turns to dance, to groove, to night. Finding our way led by another light to dead ends, and surveying watching we wait, and what was once music now seems to take a turn. Gun fire. Mortar shells. Up above, someone yells, “over the wall! This is not a drill!” Sirens. Should we help?

Suddenly there’s a halt. Scanning, body mapping. Taking record. Mounting pressure. Body contact. Breathe.

Walking more and we get to witness the puppet strings. Bureaucratic tangled webs. Latching on. Freedom yet?

Music in the night. Lighting the way.
Dancing in the light we carry. Each one of us. Within us too? We hold fast and walk on.
And holding on we cross a stream cold and serpentine. Holding on, still, a memory from before? Is she the same or another? Aren’t they all the same? Aren’t we?

Crossfire corkscrews in just the nick of time, not deep enough to kill, is just escaping the push and pull. Tossing and turning there is no end in sight. Climbing, climax, clarity?
From above a pedestal rises the heat of another’s words, uttered loud in the night, but for whom doth the voice speak? It tolls for thee. Lay down your luggage here, and take instead my fire.

Under the cover of night surrounded by city lights. By people. Encircled, we witness. Traipsing traversing travelers need all. Beaten? Balanced. Breathing heavily. Gasping. Grasping. Glued.

Gleefully we continue. The music takes us now. Through nature once more. We are those that stalk by night.

Sirens, whines. Full circle once more. Within the suitcase a whispered memory. A breath of soul, enshrouded.

Conjuring the snake like sensual memories. Carefully unpacking. Slowly breathing life within these things we carry. Artifacts, stories. Stone.

Trail and tales. Tous ensemble.

Joyful coming to. Bringing forth. And welcoming home. Light up the night, for the light is on inside.

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Autumn Rose

There’s still a flower that tends to whisper
A fragrant sweet and soft goodbye,
Only for those close enough to give
The fathoms deep, rows to reap,
Nose of longing citrus fruit,
With ties to ancient clay and root…

For those that dare to stop and smell,
And close their eyes and dare to tell,
“Dear heart come with me,
Let me show you how I see,
Stand here still, and better yet
Plant your feet and take a bow,

Close upon this blossom bounty
Bound but once, and now all free.
Take it in. Slowly, purely.
Take it in. Wholly, only.
Take it in. Now, be.”

And nothing but faint memories
Seem to wash upon the shores of mind:
Abuelita tends the roses
And fills the water for the birds.
Crystal rainbows table tops
Crochet patterns rosary beads.

And once again sweetness fills…
“Another breath, my dear, please!
In so sweet a world, a rhyme,
Wash away another time!”
Although smiling eyes and laughs do linger,
My mortal feet feel the dirt once again.

So I relive the days gone by
Basking in my memory.
And beneath the dirt where roots grow,
Between the throes of sweat and dew,
Where winter’s winds begin to blow,
The gift becomes an Autumn Rose.

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The Forest For The Trees

To Spring, on Shakespeare’s Birthday

Within the boughs of winter-laden trees,
Hardened with kinetic proof against time,
From ancient earth to root through trunk to leaves
Lies life’s invisible resilient climb.

Bubbles or spears bursting with tender life,
Hard-packed or fuzzy-soft in yellow green,
Patiently adorn winter’s deadened strife
Joining conifers, on gray boughs, serene.

In their due time they fill the forest full
Bearing solar brunt, cooling underneath,
And teaching us to go from push to pull,
Through tempest pain there’s always more than grief.

Through winter storms and all the season’s rest,
We must needs give to all our very best.

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Poem for the Pinyon Pine Cone

Piñon/Pinyon Pine by MVS in
Joshua Tree National Park

Remnants of the swirl of life
To wayward calls and winds of strife.

To connect within the life of one
And pollinate a likely sum,

There is in time of sun and rain
A slowness to the grain of strain,

Where scaly sap evaporates
And long stored water transpirates

To allow for reproduction
Akin to bio-conduction,

Passing signals along the line
Of ancient wisdom’s space and time.

Hold on tight and then open wide
Unafraid of this time to hide.

Hold tight, hold true, still, open wide,
Unafraid of this time to just abide.

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Poem for the Quarantined

Even as the sun with hot colored face
Beams heavy down on trees and building tops,
I only can feel a refractive trace
From earthen bricks with bright metal glass pops,
While thoughts wielding wildly across divides
Shake me to the core in a fear that tides.

People ’cross the world on the internet
Feeding fear’s fuel are fanning the fire,
While also stockpiling and hedging bets
Against each other and what’s to transpire,
When all we need to ensure existence
Is perhaps a little social distance.

The things we have that haven’t been cancelled,
Like conversations through technology,
Could be refreshing and new, a handselled
Awaiting the wave of virology,
‘Til when the curve of infection flattens
And it’s safe to go out in Manhattan.

So pump up the jams on your favorite tunes
And dance around in your kitchen tonight.
Love isn’t cancelled on screen to screen croons.
Your heart can beat through the wickedest fright.
Take care of yourselves and of each other,
Old or young, neighbors, like one another.

Precedence predicts the ups and the downs
While some things will remain a mystery,
But when we all are measured pound for pound
Our presence will go down in history.
So sing lullabies for the quarantined
And breathe slow and deep for the unconvened.

Even as the sun sets and the sky darkens
I hope you have enough to be grateful.
May your light shine until the law harkens
Us back together — a time less fateful.
May your heart be full of hope this springtime
Like tree bud blossoms expectant to climb.

©Michael Vitaly Sazonov 2020

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Freestyle lines while driving through Gettysburg on Memorial Day Sunday…

Driving through Gettysburg

To the north of me the rain clouds gather

And the storm is headed this way,

But the sun shines over Gettysburg.

The darkening gray turned black clouds

start to swirl and envelop the sky,

And the road is a gray bubbling saucer

Where puffs of smoke exude.

The skies over Gettysburg peel open a layer of sadness that embraces these hallowed fields,

Where celeste skies reveal puffs of cirrus white feathers,

With sunshine for ink like clouds rewriting history.

I think on the men, women, and slaves that fought to keep this country beating,

To keep its heart pounding,

They gave so much of themselves,

An unlikely transfusion,



Transcendent Moment in this young country’s fettered past.

And so much of what divided this country

still divides this country now.

What shared experiences,

What shared cultural tendencies,

What shared endeavors, adventures, proclivities

Do we as Americans possess?

What do we share besides the earth which we take for granted, the skies which we rebel against in our heights for lofty glory,

Mother nature who we depend on but don’t ever thank,

What makes us?

What makes us so unique, what makes us so different, what makes us so much better or worse than any other person on this earth?

What is it that truly defines us, not as a citizen of the world but a human being as well?