“SNAKES IN THE HOOD”
“ When people see a snake, they think a serpent.
When they think serpent, they see Satan”
….former State Rep. Douglas Dean, Atlanta
“Oh, my dear garden snakes,
Run and hide in the leaf litter!
You appear each spring as if birthed from that old stump,
Your beautiful duns and browns and moss greens
Intermingling with last year’s fallen leaves.
I remember wearing you as divine jewelry
Around my slender wrists as a child.
You terrified the adults
but transformed me into Cleopatra.
I remember a box under my bed
Disturbed by a dust mop,
And a dozen of you slithered out
Felt the 200 year old wooden floors,
Cold on your bellies.
The handler of the dust mop screamed
And I never could find you all.
Did you disappear out that window
Where you would have dropped 30 feet to the ground?
I mourned for those missing
And learned adults didn’t have the tolerance
Of children for the miracles of nature.
Later I remember eating blackberries from
A stand of rambling bushes,
Warmed by the July sun
Of the North Carolina mountains
And below me a cotton mouth doing the same.
I backed up out of fear and respect,
But the blackberries were good
And enough for both to share.
I remember the black racers
That hung in the pine trees
And we, daring each other
To run under them,
Hoping one of us would get squeezed
In your embracing coils
But it never happened.
You knew our game.
In other cultures you snakes
Symbolized the umbilical cord
Joining all humans to Mother Earth.
In ancient Crete
You were the guardians
Of the Goddess’ great mysteries
Of birth and regeneration.
The Hopi Indians
Joined the snake of the Sky Spirit
With the snake of the Earth
And dancing with them in great reverence,
Loosened them into the fields
Where the golden corn was growing
To bless and secure their fertility.
No garden hoe will touch you,
My dear little garden snakes,
No stoning of your innocence,
I will gather your twine-ing bodies
And lift you above the ignorance of bigotry.
They violate their God’s dictates
“Even to the lesser of you amongst us”
And you, without limbs or voice are surely that.
If not beloved by God, surely you will be beloved by me.
People have asked from all over for pix of the defaced mural. These I took this morning, and they only give an inkling of the scope of this vandalized mural. These political and church morons even defaced Pierre Roti’s statement in the front of the mural. It was in French, and they probably didn’t take the time to translate it.
It is news when an international artist, in this case, Pierre Roti, comes to Atlanta and does a marvelous piece of public art. Roti is from France, and has recently received a coveted award from Cornell University. He has done numerous murals, and is only 24. In my opinion, Roti is one of the best muralists in the world. To see the detail and precision of this street artist is mind blowing.
Many will try, to lift their argument, will claim that it is a white vs. black issue: it is not. A neighbor of mine who is black, went to the mural while Roti was painting it and talked to him a long time. He didn’t understand it all, but he loved the effort. I agree. It IS baffling, this mural, but why should the message be so simple? Can’t we ponder and explore at depth what Roti was saying? What the message was? Of course, these leader-idiots painted over the “Artist Statement” (In French) and then no one can even read Roti’s statement. This is akin to book burning in my view. Just stupid behavior by a leadership who don’t resepct the masses of residents but use them for their own gain. Of course, there are racial elements in this whole shebang, but that can’t be helped. ‘Whites taking over with this mural”, “Outsiders putting their shit on “our” walls”, etc. Well, this is just cultural backwardness…and also racial backwardness.
I was surprised that this mural was placed there: thought there would be a backlash from some people living there, and there was. But it’s deeper than that. It’s political opportunism used by the usual suspects. I think this will stop public art for a while, and perhaps it should. Artists shouldn’t have to worry about their art being destroyed. Perhaps a better and more lasting place could be found for this piece….but damn…that wall just cried out for something. And I don’t believe for one moment that “we had already planned a mural”. That just doesn’t wash for me and some others…..
It was painted over today by the combined stupidity of two council women and some community ‘leaders’. One is a former state senator who is about as corrupt as they come. What real difference has Douglas Dean made in Pittsburgh? They claimed it was satanic. Of course, some preachers and church members were involved in this vandalism. And that was what it was, and they did this without any consultation of the surrounding supporters of this mural. And with no permit to paint over the mural.
“They” didn’t have to have a permit, and they said so.
Maybe these ‘leaders’ are too ignorant to recognize the symbolism of anti-capitalism, civil rights and progression in this mural they dared to deface. But others, black and white, and not necessarily artists, saw the excitement and pondered the message of this mural.
Atlanta claims it is an International City. It is nothing but a cultural bog. To just paint over this mural by an acclaimed artist is nothing but cultural terrorism. So be it….we have lost something precious, and the usual forces of ignorance have won this round. But there will be others.
This University Avenue, where the mural was painted on a long concrete wall, (permitted, too) is full of prostitutes and drug dealers. That these people are not offensive to these officials is funny. That a mural that makes people THINK and was so well received ins some quarters (again, not necessarily artists, either)is offensive to these morons.
Seems this community perfers gang grafitti over art.