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Memorial Leaves : Solo Exhibition

  • Athenaeum Gallery
  • 2021

Our time echoes poet Walt Whitman’s 1860s in frightening ways, but he shows a way forward. His central trope of nature’s cycles speaks symbolically of renewals soulful, social, and political. In Memorial Leaves my chlorophyll prints perform little resurrections, confronting us with the cost of war, face by face, and the exhibition offers itself as replacement for the “Lost Cause” monuments that finally have come down.

My leafprints draw inspiration from Whitman’s prediction that the war dead will inhabit “every future grain of wheat and ear of corn, and every flower that grows, and every breath we draw.” In his Leaves of Grass, the grass springing from American soil was a sign of democracy, “Growing among black folks as among white, / Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff, I give them the same, I receive them the same.” His war poem “Reconciliation” challenges us with its exemplary compassion: “my enemy is dead, a man divine as myself is dead … I draw near, / Bend down and touch lightly with my lips the white face in the coffin.” Whitman’s wartime compassion may seem superhuman, but it provides an example, beyond race or party, of hope overcoming fear when we look one another in the face.

Memorial Leaves Artist’s Statement

Memorial Leaves exhibit page on the Athenaeum Museum