Poet Anita Barton-Williams performs 'Dear Lee' in 'Lee Krasner: Living Colour'

image of young poet anita barton-williams sitting on the floor in front of a green painting by lee krasner
26 Jul 2019
2 min watch

 

Poet Anita Barton-Williams performs her piece Dear Lee, inspired by Lee Krasner's life and art

Dear Lee,

‘The first approval comes in this form, 

this is so good you would not know it was done by a woman.’

Pain is the absence of colour, 

it is shreds of self-esteem flung on the studio floor, 

overlooking a barn full of privilege 

a figure of addict love - equal parts liquor, 

paint, 

theft? 

 

Before you pick up scraps of your self-diagnosed mediocrity 

scrape a palette knife, make a plaster

through texture, remind us to feel as well as to look. 

Inhale,

the canvas will tell you what it needs.

 

I stand and peep through the darkness, see a biographical struggle for light, 

a mirror, 

leader of the misfits, 

You pick people up the same way you pick up fragments of yourself,

make something,

make them new,

change form 

paint,

stay alive. 

 

Sketch bodies as instruments, heads pin pricks lost 

Did you feel the same way when they said you lied about your self portraits? 

I see the enduring shadow each time you dressed yourself in canvas, 

you made them see you 

 

It was intentional? To leave only parts of yourself, 

the rest you burned. 

I imagine you deemed them not good enough to leave behind. 

So many works untitled. 

Did you wonder if naming things would make them fail?

Did you wonder if naming things would make them less worthy? 

Did your name change make you more visible?

Did your propaganda win?

Did you judge yourself as they judged you for being a woman or were you brutal?

 

There was no life outside of paint 

Paint was the only way to breathe 

 

You might like...

Lee Krasner painting

An Introduction to Abstract Expressionism - Now Featuring Lee Krasner

In our brief history of Abstract Expressionism, we write Lee Krasner back in to art history and explore how the turbulence of New York in the 1940s led to the vibrant and energetic art movement that put New York at the centre of the art world.

Photo of poet Jack Miguel in Basquiat

Watch: Poet Jack Miguel performs 'Casino'

Poet and rapper Jack Miguel performs his piece Casino, inspired by Jean-Michel Basquiat's work, in the 'Self-Portrait' room of Basquiat: Boom for Real.