(From Rob Will, on death row in TX, in response to I Am Troy Davis)
“The world is but a canvas to the imagination.” – Henry David Thoreau
This book is haunting, beautiful but haunting… It is just past 2am and I am up listening to some nice jazz. “Lighthouse Blues” by the Jazz Crusaders is on and the sax is lovely and the vibraphone is quite nice. Good meditation music. Earlier I had to put down, “I Am Troy Davis” by Jen Marlowe, breathe deeply and just meditate, simply because this book has been evoking deep emotion from within me. This is the second time I have had to do this.
The first was yesterday when listening to Maurice Ravel’s orchestration of Modest Mussorgsky’s “Pictures At An Art Exhibition”. Mussorgsky wrote this piece of music in honor of his friend, the artist Victor Hartmann, who died too young. This piece is alright. I particularly like the triumphant ending but what really got to me was the reason Mussorgsky wrote the music. Like Troy Davis, Victor Hartmann died an untimely death… Mussorgsky honored his friend through the Art of creating music and Jen Marlowe has honored the life of Troy Davis, his family, his friends and their struggle through the Art of her writing. One of the most powerful aspects of this book is how Jen humanizes everyone involved and links individual lives and experiences with larger psychosociopolitical issues.
Thinking of these things and vibing with the music led my Mind into the realm of Artistic creation… I picked up my pencil, pen, paints, an illustration board and books and began creating… The idea of unity kept dancing through my mind and while going back and forth from jazz to classical music I, in turn, let my paint brush dance across the canvas. I glanced over at the book and quickly read the quotes on the cover and first few pages from well-known people in the social justice struggle… Sister Helen Prejean, Maya Angelou, Cornel West, Amy Goodman, Susan Sarandon, Eve Ensler, Gloria Steinem…Unity, unity, unity…
I let the motion of the color field background rock with the rhythm of the music and the Energy of the Color Theory I was utilizing. Once the background was done I put the piece to the side so it could dry overnight and be ready for the geometrical forms symbolizing Unity that I had envisioned… Some Fela Kuti – who is one of my favorite musicians – just came on and this sounds like an excellent signal to finish the painting. Fela was definitely about struggle, the vibrancy if community involvement and international solidarity. At the core of all this is Unity and all of those ideas are illustrated well in “I Am Troy Davis”, which I will continue reading once I am finished with this painting.
(please consider making a holiday gift of I Am Troy Davis to a prisoner! 40% discount just by entering coupon code Holiday40! Your gift will be sent to a prisoner along with a note explaining that the book is an anonymous holiday gift.)