Black | Communion: Philadelphia Artists
Black | Communion _ Poetry & Prose
- Listen to the inspired writings penned by Saint Joseph's students in response to the compelling exhibition, Black | Communion: Philadelphia Artists.
- Wednesday, Oct. 25th - 6 to 8 pm
Refreshments will be served
image: First Communion, 2021, Naomieh Jovin
Generations, 1996, Paul Keene
Blues Band, 1990, Paul Keene
First Communion, 2021, Naomieh Jovin
Redbone, 2019, Lavett Ballard
Jazz Player, c. 20th, Andrew Turner
This exhibition, curated by English Professor Jenny Spinner and Anne Gutherman ’24, features artworks created by Black Philadelphia-area artists from the 1930s to the present. It includes pieces from the permanent collection as well as works on loan. The artists’ works highlight the celebrations, exchanges, and sacrifices of communion in its multifaceted meanings. They also invite audiences to consider what they give and receive as members of communities. Featured alongside the works are creative responses from 8 Saint Joseph’s University students, including Taryn Bellamy ’24, Niyada Birch ’23, Reilly Hall ’24, Sophia Pringle ’23, Leslie Quan ’22, Caren Teague ’23, Shelby Wilson ’24, and Sasha Zekavat ’24.
Reilly Hall: The Window Seat
(In Response to Paul F. Keene's "Generations”)
Yesterday I woke in the middle of the night
and I tried to see what you saw.
I wanted to know how you did it,
how you noticed the pattern in the rainfall,
how the sound of your voice stopped
quivering as you spoke,
why you still have patience with mine
as it quivers.
So, I searched outside my window,
desperate for meaning,
as if the answer to my question
lays somewhere beyond myself.
But all I saw was the man across the street
reading in his window seat,
At this hour.
Raindrops now trickle down my window
like little specks of gold
illumined by the glowing streetlight.
They gather and glow,
gather and glow,
until my image of the man becomes blurred.
He could be anybody now.
He could be my father,
or my grandfather,
or those before him,
For who am I if not the man sitting in the window seat,
no longer searching for the answers to his suffering
or for a reason to love.
Reading about this or that,
content in the window seat,
waiting for the next young person to witness him
and realize we are all the same.
Leslie Quan: Create blue and blues
Can you hear it?
In the blues,
there’s a vibration
melting to goop
right on the edge
of a saxophone.
If I played it
next to your ear,
would you listen?
Like, really listen?
With all your heart?
So much that reality
melts to an abstract
version of nights
we met at the bar.
Tell me two things:
Who do you pray to?
And when do you finally
believe that god is on your side?—
When you’ve fallen in love?
Well, that must be
the only explanation.
At least I think so.
Caren Teague: Prayer Hands
I got Vaseline on my Crucifix,
this Sunday morning.
The crackle of hot comb sounds the alarm;
We take our grits in bowls to go.
Cream stockings that don’t pull all the way up;
White socks fringed around my ankles,
One lower than the other
The rest of me is perfect.
I wear shiny leather shoes
that I tap dance in,
but they are not made for tapping.
These shoes were made for First Communions,
We pack into the car.
Hiding lip gloss we took from our favorite cousin.
Our baby hairs popping and finger nail files
rounding our unpolished fingernails;
Cece Winans on in the background
A group of Black girls on the back seat;
Can a church van be hoopty?
The Holy Spirit fills her,
Our church van, Delilah
‘cause she is carrying precious cargo
A little Black girl
The figure that joins our nation
The national anthem
The peak of the highest mountain
A living, breathing form of art
When I asked her, my grandmother said,
“a dove came from the heavens and knocked the
world out every time a black girl was born.”
She said they needed a special entrance.
I was one of those Black girls.
With prayer hands
and leather shoes,
in church for First Communion.
Because church wouldn't be church without
Sophia Pringle: ripe
as your fingertips
poke and prod,
invade my crown
which I placed
high on head
hoping that one
part of me
towered over you.
I look out,
do what Granny
told me to:
THINK OF YELLA
WHEN THEY PROVOKE,
YELLA SOOTHES RED
and so I
shuffle yellow hues
mustard, daffodil, canary.
this is not enough,
as my thoughts
shift to reality,
only to find
that you’ve used
my own mind
against me, to
sour my sweetness;
lemoned my paradise.
Taryn Bellamy: Mona Lisa
Growth is an uncomfortable process, but evolution is my middle name
I don’t fear the evolution of a Black woman
I admire it
Images of her brown beauty displayed to the public
Portray her as a work of art
But if you strip away some pieces,
You’ll see who she used to be
Compared to who she still is
I don’t fear the evolution of a Black woman
I desire it
My curiosity strikes again,
Leaving me to tear away a slightly bigger piece
To unveil another depth of her person
As we continue to paint ourselves
Reveal ourselves, and admire ourselves
We carry on to recreate our stories,
Share our stories, and love our stories
I trust that our future is as bright as her golden skin
As versatile as her hair
As deep as her eyes
And as resilient as her character
I admire and desire
To be her Mona Lisa,
As she is mine
Shelby Wilson: Jazz Player
What happens when our music
doesn’t’ fit with the white keys of the piano?
go to the Jazz Player
When they say your music is not enough,
reach for the Jazz Player
When it’s played as sensual, racy, raunchy,
play for the Jazz Player
Why does our music get silenced?
Why do our horns, keys, voices stay in the shadows?
Why is it wild?
Why is that feared?
Till we can come out the shadows with our wild dreams,
Who do we play for?
The Jazz Player?
Niyada Birch: Words Mama Gave Me
The body and the blood
The blood and the body
The blood flows from the body so I don’t have to worry
Who I will be
All I need to know is in my hands
Mama told me
The world can be cruel to me
But my job is to love everybody
I will take this to remember there was a surrender involved
Surrender? When I do, I let go of me.
I let go of who I used to be. I get to feel free
Mama told me
One step closer to the Divine
“I’m right by you little sunshine”
Mama told me while holding me
What we remember means everything
Sasha Zekavat: Ode to Details
Velvet tone in cotton clothes
Energy as pure
As their glance is kind
Their skin is soft
Their eyes are
Sprinkled in the breath,
That leaves them.
Snowflakes woven in rain.
As energy sings through a coral reef in her iris.