the old-heads simply woulda said i was “touched in the head”… i think that’s a fair assessment. i’m a failed historian / theologian / social critic who’s basically turned his crib notes into poems. that’s the origin story. aesthetically, i’m inspired to frame my writing (and my art) in mythology and fairytale because as a child i was given “gonna jump down, turn around, pick a bale of cotton” as a lullaby from the adults around me. such were our theme songs back in the day… and fuck if i pass that on to those who follow us.
p.s.: a “better” biography follows the jump….
my chiaroscuro vitae, my rainbow excrement, this abstrack africana: brothadirt’s aesthetical approach to creation.
my aim: to undo all of modern history.
how fuckin’ grandiose is that?!? i grew up a child of Looney Toons and Cheerios. a child of Western Civilization. as a child, we are caretakers of White Supremacy. even if immigrants, we are taught at a young age to turn (if ever so slightly) against the cultures our peoples originated from. and if that culture is to survive, to have relevance, then its beautiful parts must be dissected, reassembled, and re-appropriated. foreign cultures must surrender their originality to the Melting Pot if it is to remain of value. if it is to have currency within the Mainstream where Western Civilization is the top of the totem. standards of beauty are derived from this totem. from this totem our fairytales are whittled into slivers and placed upon the shoulders of every citizen within this system. for some, this sliver is as the most glorious brooch in radiant gleam. for others it is the most heaviest of chips weighing us down… the original albatross.
the brooch is privilege.
the chip is fetish.
and the distinctions are aligned with our individual places in race and gender.
the textbooks teach us that the want for equality is the want for diminishing authorities, for the lessening of privileges among the most socially elite. we are taught that this is the goal for all activism – and this is an untruth. a conflation of politics and desire. but struggle is based on the need for the freedom of movement. for the comings of goings of everyone to be equal under the law. feminism wasn’t about the debasement of white men but of the acceptance of white women as political and financial equals. abolition was about the unlimited freedom of those systemically denied freedom. aboliton cared (and cares) not for the white men conflating their own empowerment to the enslavement of blackness. abolition & feminism said to white men: i care not for your personal mythos; just pay me my fair wage, let me buy this bag of sugar unimpeded, and be on my way without unnecessary discourse/sermon/reprimand from your sorry-ass ego.
activism is not about the lessening of privileges by the classes considered the most elite… activism is about granting equal access to all to the privileges they are denied. it’s only when one’s privileges come at the sole expense of others that conflict must be approached; that such privilege must be confronted, terminated, overcame. this is the end of a politic. not the end of an actual privilege. voting is a privilege. who i vote for is a politic. and it is the same with art and identity.
that the art of a black man has access to the market place is a privilege. that it must be labeled as black art in order to be commodified is a politic. brooch vs. chip.
the prose, the poetry, the visual art that i create are all, hopefully, representations of the privileges i demand for the mythologies that i culturally adhere to. my lover nude upon the couch is my odalisque of choice, the practice of how i romanticize the beauties from which i originate and find enchanting. this is Art, for good or bad, and that my lover on the couch is black is not a fisticuff. is not a fetish. is not… a chip i am forced to carry around. my lover is exquisite. radiant.
in the West, the white, docile, odalisque is sacrosanct. it’s from this porcelain pedestal that white men grant privileges to white women. feminism was not intentionally about the destruction of this pedestal but about the woman’s ability to step down from at her own leisure and convenience without hindrance. to place her own aesthetic atop the pedestal. no one surrenders a privilege. we all only want access to create privileges in our own likeness. this is not a contrast. it is a complement.
my art IS a politic.
but it is all based on the manifestation of Blackness as a romanticism. a romanticism that, at its foundation, does not require a foil upon which to juxtapose its identity against. i am black… not because those opposed to me are white… i am black because Blackness is fair and pristine, it is pure and… sacrosanct.
i would rather not use my art to riddle Western Art with holes… but it continues to render my own standards inoperable where Beauty is governed. i volley Blackness into the void of Cultural Commerce. it only hits you because you choose to stand in its way… you would not be hurt or grieved if all you would do is step aside and marvel, as i and others, in its magnificent flight (not that your sight is required. just breathe… and let it go).
upfromsumdirt is a visual artist, graphic designer, and poet from Louisville but currently residing in Lexington, Ky and is the alter (or altar!) ego of Ronald Davis. an autodidactic always in search of growth, brothadirt has been the recipient of Kentucky’s Al Smith 2010 Award for Visual Art and won awards at the African American Art Exhibition at Actors Theatre of Louisville. his art has been galleried and exhibited regionally in the states of Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee, and as a part of Tewodross Melchishua’s traveling art exhibit MCs, MICS, AND METAPHORS; his work has also been featured on the covers of African American Review and Tidal Basin Review and he has created book cover designs for Crystal E. Wilkinson (The Birds Of Opulence and the reissue covers for Blackberries, Blackberries and Water Street), Dr. Adam J. Banks (Digital Griot), Honorée Fanonne Jeffers (The Glory Gets), Keith Gilyard (The Next Great Old-School Conspiracy), Makalani Bandele (Hell-Fightin’), Bernard Clay (English Lit), as well as for his own poetry collections and chapbooks (Caul & Response, Argus House Press 2015 and Tangerine Tubman, Left-Handed JuJu Press 2016). upfromsumdirt’s art or poetry has been featured online at Connotations Press, About Place Journal, New Southerner, Accents Radio, and Nat Creole Magazine.
sumdirt’s latest chapbook, Chiaroscuro Vitae, was recently published by Radical Paper Press 2019.
for art, design, or publication inquiries please email me at email@example.com