Art that Illuminates
By Khalisa Rae
Out of limescale and ivy is birthed a technicolor dream
on Parrish Street. A peer through the gate, reveals a secret
garden-lush courtyard whose brick beholds
a red-orange raging beast, but this is no English countryside
this is the Bull City. Where the mural masterpieces
beg for you to grab life by the horns, to seize the colors
of the day so vibrant, you can taste it. There, in the center
of city plaza, stands a man whose feet tell the story
of weathered locust wood, arms and legs built to resist
the rot of our war-torn past urging us to chase
every inkling of spontaneous joy,
and don’t you want to savor it?
Don’t you want to see the ray of sun shining just for you
on Main? The solar-powered dragonfly waving its wings
telling you to soar? The wheat and flower field on Chapel Hill
testifying that this city has stood tall like stalks that don’t break
and bend after a hard rain.
If you turn your gaze skyward, in the middle of Market
Street, the Chalice of hope is waiting for you to drink
from its cup, to remember rising from ash. Each piece
evidence of Durham’s evolution, each street a transport
to any place or time in history, like back to the tobacco
fields on Mangum and Main. Every inch of brick is sprayed
with green, taupe legacy, of farmers finding fortune amidst
adversity, and these walls keep that legacy alive.
Each brush stroke a story of self-made migrant workers
who designed an empire. Don’t you want to hear their
organic, leaf-trade lineage? Painted for you, a griot story?
Here, the street is your storybook, each creation an escape
to your wildest dreams
like a 30-foot bronocorious, a rainbow shield and a swirling
iron seat, sheets of purple and blue on the side of a brewery,
snapshots that reimagine family and preserve community
at its core. Garage door freedom fighters taking a stand
and a brazen bull roaming the street, each boldly saying,
we are full of life and memory. A memory immortalized
in clay and color. Metal and marble, brick and bronze.
We must remember revival, the gospel of peace splattered in triple
color explosion-- a reminder of them that ushered in our freedom.
Come shake hands with Martin, a 3D vibrant metronome
where each portrait of women warriors, Rosa and Pauli waiting
for you to sing them alive.
Can you hear it? Hear the concert of colors?
J. Cole soulful beat, screaming tigers, dancing toads,
golden braids that extend 40 acres all come alive
because you came to behold them. Each time you visit,
you become the bridge to skies with a neverending outline
and vibrance that reverberates.
Come see a community woven together
in a tapestry of possibility. Oh, the new creations
we’ll make together.
When the light around you grows dim
Let the radiance of Durham illuminate your path
with art that inspires.