Angela HelmigEkphrasis Poetry
As an artist and a writer, I was drawn to the Our Stories Project because it offers an opportunity to shine a light on Shawnee culture and share it with the community. With art and stories, we can heal our past, learn from the present, and live into a joyful future with an expectant heart of love, togetherness, compassion, and curiosity about one another.
I am choosing to write Ekphrastic Poetry about these paintings by Shawnee artist Inez Running-rabbit: The Seeker, and The Raven. As I use the paintings as my muse, I surrender to what shows up for me from each painting. This is influenced by my environment, background, and experiences. I imagine, if Running-rabbit was writing poetry to match these paintings, they might be very different. This is the core of Ekphrasis Poetry, being inspired by another work of art. I hope that Running-rabbit would be pleased with this use of her paintings. I am grateful to her family for agreeing to loan the works of art to the project and for giving me permission to interpret her work. My hope is that as you sit with these paintings and poems you will be able to relate to Running-rabbit’s paintings and the inspired poems, and let your imagination weave the threads to complete “Our Stories.”
In The Seeker, the hues of golden whites and yellows with the complimentary color of violet, along with the content of the mixed-media painting, inspires a grand poem of richness and seeking connection with the divine source.
In The Raven, the bold palette of black, red, and white lends itself to a darker, mysterious, and somewhat ominous interpretation of the mixed-media painting. Using The Raven for an outlet to express the darker side of life, this poem was written in the time of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic and was a catalyst for my expression of this horrific virus.
Humanity has always grappled with the good and evil, light and darkness of life, and these two forces that exist within each one of us. Acknowledging that both exist, we get to choose which one we will honor.
Ekphrasis Poetry: “An ekphrastic poem is a vivid description of a scene or, more commonly, a work of art. Through the imaginative act of narrating and reflecting on the of a painting or sculpture, the poet may amplify and expand its meaning.” ()