The artists I know are perfectionists, heartlessly so, because that is required. They will paint right over a failed canvas; they will rip out every stitch and start anew. The artist comes to her material with an mix of control and surrender, and her success seems to rely on her ability to grasp a material’s specific demands, while reconciling those with her own vision. There is something there, in the material, that works against you—which requires rigor, but might bring relief.
My year was rich, and I hope yours was, too. It was full of joys and frustrations, thrombosis and the evenest sleeps, massive blizzards with fragmenting winds, rains that blurred the boundaries between body and air, and the exasperations of humidity rising off the tennis courts in the park near my home. I listened to the otherworldly gargling calls of ‘ua’u in the young but stelliferous dark of Haleakala, let the shutter out on my Nikon to see those same stars in the sapphire depth of Wisconsin’s skies, and I spent an inordinate amount of time staring out at the Chicago river from the exhibit hall in the Sheraton Grand Chicago, where I also learned how to sell books on the run.
* A.L. Major *
Early November last year Renisha McBride, a 19-year-old African American woman, was shot outside the home of a 54-year-old white man in Dearborn Heights, Michigan. Several hours earlier, she had crashed her car into a parked vehicle. She couldn’t find her cellphone. She was drunk, high and possibly concussed. She was a young black woman looking for help in a society that routinely asserts black bodies are volatile, more likely to perpetuate violence than seek assistance. The Internet barely yawned at the news. The case was similar to Jonathan Ferrell’s yet its dissimilar treatment in the media seemed one more disappointing example of how America values the lives of African-American women in the year 2013.