Of What Remains

Editor's Note: This piece was created during a Citizen-inspired writing session at this summer's Shade exhibit at the Clyfford Still and Denver Art Museums. 

By Sumi Lee

“Black was never a color of death or terror for me. I think of it as warm—generative.

But color is what you choose to make it.”

– Mark Bradford

“When you talk about art,” you say, “you are glowing.”

It isn’t until the memory burns into something as unrecognizable as its black residue that I see what the moment meant. Some of these colors are ones that I must keep burning, the ones pulling deep from the elements of the sky that I roll over onto its tender belly, add a fistful of sticks, stories with thick skin. I must keep building the fire, keep stirring what is there: to see what is ready and what needs to be turned over with words, kindled with a log of childhood, the pages of experience. If I can step closer.

The embers glow.

I warm my hands.

It takes time to learn about my own life.

What I have here is the soot of the fire, of what remains, after the talk and the song and the howl until the midnight rain cools them out. The fire encased in the warm womb of the dark glow. The messages are burned inside its matte black body. These are the remains—black, charred, scarring and scarred, the color that smears to the touch, the color that writes.

Manuel Aragon