Kaleidoscope Moons Reclaim with Compassion the Beauty of Lives Lost Too Soon (part 1)

Kaleidoscope Moons Reclaim with Compassion the Beauty of Lives Lost Too Soon (part 1)


The original subject scheduled for this post was the 100th anniversary of the "Harlem Hellfighter's" celebratory parade through New York City in February, 1919, following the United States' and allies' successful campaign to end World War I in Europe. For the African Americans who comprised the unit, participation had meant another step toward gaining racial equality and ending unwarranted violence against them at home. With Black History Month only a couple of weeks away and commemorations of the Harlem Renaissance Centennial now kicking off around the globe, the subject would have been timely and appropriate.

However: just as humanity had to address the impact of various forms of violence--such as war, lynching, and race riots--during the Jazz Age Harlem Renaissance, we find ourselves doing the same in 2019, an entire century later. Too often, the casualties you might anticipate hearing about are not the military personnel or police officers who confront danger as part of their profession. They tend to be children in school classrooms, at parties, attending concerts, playing in front yards, immigrating from one oppressive situation to another, or just nestled at home among family members assumed to be dedicated to their safety and wellness.

Photography Prints

The beauty of all they were or may have become is gone in the flash of one horrific moment. Rather than revisit yet again the question of why so many of us exercise so little compassion toward children and disregard the potential inherent in every child, I launched the Kaleidoscope Moons Art Series as one way to reclaim with compassion the beauty of lives lost too soon.  

A New Perspective on an Old Wound

How to survive and cope with grief over the loss of an offspring is a dilemma I began exploring as a writer through poems in my first book, I Made My Boy Out of Poetry, and then later in essays in The American Poet Who Went Home Again. As the year 2019 slowly gains momentum, I am viewing the subject through a distinctly 21st century lens and re-engaging it as a visual artist via the Kaleidoscope Moons series.  Why at this precise time? Largely because of what I expressed in these notes on the series:

Story behind the Images

"During the holiday season some years ago, I lost a niece and nephew to extreme violence and chose to honor their lives by naming a Christmas tree after them. It was my way of gifting them the joy of which they had been robbed. The Kaleidoscope Moons Series is an extension of that tradition in honor of children lost to such violence around the world as we move forward into 2019. It is also an expression of standing in solidarity with families who have endured these losses as they adjust to something from which they are unlikely to ever fully recover...

“Specifically:  The news out of Houston, Texas (USA) was particularly gruesome upon learning that 7-year-old Jazmine Barnes had been shot and killed while in a car with her family the morning before New Year's Eve. Her mother, LaPorsha Washington, was also shot but survived along with 3 other daughters.

"In my hometown of Savannah, Georgia, an up-and-coming 17-year-old rapper named Tyrese Carter and a 20-year-old named Jamar Davis Jr. were shot dead within 24 hours after the New Year got underway. The family of one gun violence victim, former university student Rebecca Foley killed 6 years ago in Savannah, announced plans to fight back. They are suing, to the tune of $35 million, the owners of the apartment complex where Ms. Foley was killed for the 'inadequate security' they feel contributed to her death." (from Fine Art America)

The American media has proclaimed the heroics of 13-year-old Jayme Closs for managing after three months to escape her kidnapper. However, she lost her parents to the abductor's shotgun blasts and in that instant experienced the destruction of her childhood. Clearly the concept of compassion held no meaning for him and a civilized society is obligated to reflect on possible reasons why.

What roles, for example, might the glamorization of hatred and sustained monetization of war play in Closs's abductor's choice to ignore the excruciating pain he would cause a child and her family?  How did institutionalized practices which place the well-being of children toward the lower end of any list of priorities possibly intensify his nihilism? When reflecting on likely answers, this much becomes clear: the degree to which any given individual might be held accountable for helping maintain a culture of indifference and, by doing so, contribute to the malevolent destruction of human life is a consideration which can no longer be avoided.   

NEXT: Kaleidoscope Moons Reclaim with Compassion the Beauty of Lives Lost Too Soon Part 2

co-author of Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance
Creator of Silk-Featherbrush Artworks


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