We can’t keep Kellie Richardson’s book cover under wraps any longer! It’s too good to keep to ourselves, and the story behind it – and behind Kellie’s creative work in collage – is worth sharing. So, let us introduce you to The Art of Naming My Pain, a collection of prose, poetry and collage by Kellie Richardson.
The cover of is based on one of Richardson’s collage pieces, “Listen,” created in 2019 with acrylic, tissue paper and found items on canvas.
We asked Richardson a few questions about “Listen” earlier this summer. We were particularly interested in learning why she chose it as the cover art for her forthcoming book .
Here’s what she said:
KR: I picked “Listen” for the cover because I thought it best captured the tension of being aware of and naming our pain – and moving through life anyhow. The book lifts up moments of confusion, paralysis, self-hatred and pain, but it also communicates a strident and sacred desire to hang on to hope and snatch up joy wherever we can find it. I really hope that paradox resonates with others.
What was your inspiration for creating “Listen”?
KR: My hope was to capture sacred moments of tuning-in to self, reclaiming the right to take up space and be present, be seen and heard. Sometimes we set out to do it through meditation or retreats, but often we must take our liberties wherever we can – in our cars, walking down the street, midday at our desk – to center and really FEEL our life force. Music has always been a key outlet for me to feel and find my source so I was inspired to bring in the speaker and texture of walking through the city, music pumping in my ears, refilling my cup. My dream for Black women in particular is to experience the space and freedom to disengage from requests, demands, and obligation to tune in to a frequency that supports a symbiosis with the natural and spiritual world, with an understanding that those worlds indeed do exist in our cities, ghettos, our back woods.
Is there a connection between the collage and prose/poetry in The Art of Naming My Pain?
KR: The pieces I selected were curated to support the unfolding of the work within the book. It’s not formulaic or a literal representation of any specific poem or piece, but rather another way to chase and name the landmarks and feelings of this journey.
What draws you to collage over other art media?
KR: I am drawn to collage for its possibility and its persistent invitation to transform one thing into another. When I dismantle the materials and reconfigure them, I know that I am conducting the time honored tradition of so many other women who are gathering the bits of refuse the world has left them, and weaving them into a tapestry of survival designed to feed their babies and sustain their sanity. These pieces honor the images and spirits that see me through my darkest times. Through them, I unapologetically lift up the nuances of Black consciousness, but also aim to use collage to lift up and enhance the common thread of human experiences, regardless of race.
The Art of Naming My Pain will be released on October 17, 2019 (details TBD). Pre-orders can be placed with Blue Cactus Press, here.
Kellie’s collage art was photographed by Sydnie Couch of Deer Creek Media. All photographs in this post were taken by Couch, who beautifully captured the colors, textures and spirit of Kellie’s work.