About Two Paths
In this collaborative series, Two Paths, artists Coleman Stevenson and Noelle Suzanne Barce respond in their unique ways to segments of a poem, creating a sequenced visual expression of the text, with corresponding pieces appearing side-by-side. One path is a dynamic presentation of moments of allowed chaos, the other an attempt to corral and control.
Barce presents wild gestures of ink and paint, embracing elements of chance and fragments of identity in her exploration of the epochal void. In this space, movement is free, and social, cultural, and political distinctions fragmented. The work is a snapshot of a moment, of a point between nothingness and form, between emptiness and content. It describes a state of pure potential, and an acceptance of chaos that ultimately becomes ordered through repetition and the application of traditional craft practices. Coleman Stevenson’s illustrations take the ultimate form of order -- language -- and render it indecipherable. In these ink on paper pieces, she experiments with the shape of text, allowing the layered words to become image, a method that both obscures and manifests. Part picture, part poem, part spell, the resulting weavings hide chaos within their meticulousness; unknowable content is created in these chance encounters of language upon language.
The chiasmus formed in these artists’ paired pictures -- apparent chaos revealing order / precision yielding to ambiguity -- reveals linked concerns despite contradictory processes and techniques.
I Am Nothing’s Mother
by Coleman Stevenson
Every night I fold the world up
and every morning I open it again.
There are days for talking and days for hands.
Days for planning and days for teeth.
There are days to sit and watch the shadows of bees
dart past the windows in the garden.
I think of the brightness that gives them grey ghosts,
that copies them onto any surface.
They think of hives and are far from home.
The way I feel about myself is because of the light.
It angles onto a face favorably or it slants
along the jaw and nose revealing the beast.
Should I hide from my father, the Sun,
become a pale lettuce, bitter at the core?
What is a root deep and wide beneath but a shadow-self?
Should I be the black shadow over all the insects of the garden?
In the angle without light, I carve myself out of myself,
I carve myself out of space, carve a self-sized space in the air,
become the air, become the stretch of shadow.
From here I can cast my aethereal line
and I can lengthen my gaze like an antenna
to the depths, to the depths, to the depths, to deaths,
to the dealing the undoing the retrieval.
Because I looked at the Sun so long,
its opposite is clear when I close my eyes.
If I am not a being of the Sun,
am I of the Moon the satellite, the mother,
that hovers over fear of emptiness?
The Earth considers itself in revolutions,
a double-agent to dual spheres.
Bees plan the path home, always the same path,
but a year becomes shorter every year.