Amy Cohen Banker
‘PERSONAL TOTEMS’ By, For and About WOMEN OF COLOR
I have been recognized as a woman of the world…The mountains, the woods, the forest, other cultures and other territories call to me…However, I live in areas steeped with history . The Stockbridge and Catskill Indians, the farmers, the merchants, the freed slaves settled this land and coexisted at times. Great Barrington, Berkshire County is down the road… W.E. Dubois was born here. I lived in The Bronx, New York City, Rockland County and New Marlboro, Massachusetts for most of my life but I have also lived in Manhattan, Upper and Lower East Side as well as China, Japan, Spain, Ireland, Alaska, Hawaii, Saipan, The Canary Islands, London and Mexico.. I have also traveled to Minnesota, Santa Barbara, Florence, Austin, Missouri, New Orleans, Australia, New Zealand, Colorado Eleuthra and Korea in order to seek inspiration and regeneration. Temperance, exuberance, transformation occurs through articulation and creativity for me. I am known as Jewish but also have American Indian and Mongolian roots that coexist with my Jewish priests and Canaanite family.
I see the mountains as a poem. The river as a novel. The tree is a paragraph. The leaf An apostrophe. A flower is a prayer. A branch could be a mediation. The fields, the forest, the woods, beyond human understanding. No boundaries, no breadth, no fences. No preconditions or punctuations.. Trial and error. No legislation or supervision. Nature is a miracle. Not a mechanical achievement to the rest. Random fluidity without litigation or supervision, beyond criticism or lawsuits or locks or doors. The rivers and sky are astronomical, magical, universal portals to the other side. The song, the incantation the message. Who designed the sun, the rain, the landscape, the people?
These questions have been posed by many. Internal and external arts and concepts are addressed by Melville, Akhmatova, Apocalyn, Jules Verne, W.E. Dubois, Shakespeare, and biblical and indigenous cultures. Strong totemic resonance, atavistic art Natives of color who create for themselves influenced the fine arts and me. I am drawn to strong colors, past lives, mysticism, acmeism, traditions, future preservations and restorations of the environment and of our expansive civilization. So are my friends, living and literary.
Therefore I present a portrait of my friend Apocalyn. “Apocalyn”, 2006, oil on canvas. 25” x 40”.
She is from Arkansas and Carolinas and is a writer and a painter and a seer and Native American Indian. She helps others in hard times through crystal gazing and mediation. She channels other artists and has traveled to Tahiti to visit Gauguain. She is married to a Japanese tattoo artist. We are both like sisters.
Allison Jane Banker is my third oil painting. “Alison”, 2002-2006, oil on canvas. 60” x 16”. It is Allie, painted in my style, in her high school graduation dress but sort of Egyptian tomblike and a memorial and elegy. She also was a writer, prophet, artist, humanitarian and had friends of all colors and ages. She left this world at age nineteen with ultimate hope and promise.
Then I present Anna Akhmatova. "Anna", 2003-06, acrylic & oil on linen. 30” x 60”. She was called “the dark princess” and was an inspiration to all artists and poets. She also was considered a prophet. She led me by her example and her words to inspiration and temperance in my art and life. She suffered and continued to make art that crossed cultures, borders and lines.
I picked the poem that is merged with a landscape after 9/11 and after the death of my daughter Allison Jane Banker in 10.18,01. My best friend, a man, had denounced and abandoned me emotionally after having been a rock of strength before that time. I felt a communion and relationship with Anna and her poems. Her portrait and mine are steeped in that this painting.
I AM SO HAPPY I CAN LEARN TO PAINT IN ANY STYLE I CAN MANAGE TO FINISH ANY PROJECT I CAN CREATE MAGIC WHENEVER I CHOOSE WHEREVER I TRAVEL TO WHEN NECESSARY WHEN NEEDED THROUGH LOVE, RITUAL, MEDITIATION AND SACRIFICE. THROUGH MEDIATION, THROUGH MAKING ART AND COMMITMENT TO MY INNER VOICE AND THE GREATER GOOD.
- Amy Cohen Banker
All three of these women influenced me through their art and their example.