Absolute Elsewhere by Gail Gray
Had the honor of being one of 12 local artists asked to represent the great mosaic of our community by offering five-minute presentations of our work that woul ultimately build on a single theme captured in each of Gail’s paintings.
I was assigned the painting, Absolute Elsewhere. I was to interpret it. Here is my word interpretation.
“Come here! Hot! The dusk is asleep on our breast bones. Sweat. Heat. Warmth, like a mothers incubation. Safe. Touch. Sounds. Bells. Hear the bells and the drums. The drums are the sweetest heartbeat. Home sweet home. Echoes in the deep, blood-orange. Feel the sun, see it bright. The scene is set. We journey back, to where my friends live, in remote, Dellol Ethiopia, in Northeast Afrika, one of the hottest places on earth. Behold the mountains. Witness the mountains. Behold the sculpted, asymmetrical mountains. The sun is the backdrop to the mountains. The shadows climb. Journey home, to wildly staccato rhythms of Afrikan drums by Archie Shepp.”
We all know that during Jim Crow, we could pick up food at places that served whites, but couldn’t dine in. How racism demanded that we be served separately in every since of the word. I recall hearing stories from my grandma about how she had to carry toilet paper, spoons, dishes, ketchup & hot sauce on road trips in the 50’s. As a child, having lived with gmom I remember those same customs spilling over into our lives when we traveled in the 80’s (eating in our car, peeing on the side of the rd etc). I never understood why we never went in, but now I do. Shoutout to Martin Luther King Jr. for being one of our ancestors that paved the way for us to sit in & enjoy delicious food in public restaurants like the one in this throwback 📷! #martinlutherkingjr #freedomisntfree #deliberateandunafraid #girlrillavintage
I keep pulling memories from my follicles, little bro. Wish you had left here a little easier. A little softer. Calmer. A bit more peace left behind. A little less dramatic. But shit, it wouldn’t be you. You remind me. You remain, the deepest love I’ve ever known. My brother. Missing you on this day of your death. Shoutout, to my loved ones for showing me today! ♥️
On the eve of your departure, little bro. Post-up In the mirrored halls we’ve spent so much time. Time being #queer #young AND #black lol! I peak over my shoulder, only to see you there. Missing you beyond the 7-letters in #forever. #tribesgiving #belvedere #mybrothersswag #agingmakesmeknowit #magicalspirit
#wcw. You never have to prove your way into anyone’s life, they just have to trust you that’s all. My mother was never one to prove anything, even when all the stakes were high and odds against her. Even through her addiction, the abuse, and disappointment I learned to trust her. She was the first one in this world that I ever had to trust. I learned to trust the parts of her process that counteracted her addiction, the visceral #spiritmama that birthed me, born me & raised me up. I remember the moment she stopped fighting to keep us although much damage had been done. It was the proudest and most painful part of growing up. I know that she cared more deeply for us than this life flesh could ever show. The day I learned to trust my mother was the day she learned to trust herself. #restinpeacemama #wcwmama #restwell #gonebeforetime #trust #girlrillavintage #tag #theeamazinggrace
Struggling to Self love in summer
Self portrait. #summer2015 During a time of major transition. When the events in my life had me feeling grimy and less than powerful, unattractive and sore in heart. The sun was brighter and warmer that day, managed to hug me out of bed and into these clothes, onto this chair and under the trees where I could breathe. Suddenly, shit didn’t feel so bad. Reminded me of that unstoppable time on the train from Savannah when I knew then that my existence was never meaningless. And just like that my soul was warmed to the bone. To smile was my only inflection. #tag #theeamazinggrace #girlrillavintage #selflove #sunnydays #soullight #winning