Chroma: Five Centuries of Women Artists
poems by Sharon Tracey
This revelatory collection of ekphrastic poetry was inspired by the paintings of forty-seven women artists working over five centuries and born in twenty-five different countries. Some were well known within their circles and times; others worked in relative obscurity. The youngest died at twenty-five, the oldest at 101; some are painting at this very moment. “[Chroma] draws us backward in time, but also inwards: into the mind of a modern viewer, into the lives of women painters across the centuries, and into their paintings, which are not only creations, but characters, catalysts, windows, worlds.” (Libby Maxey, editor and poet, author of Kairos, winner of the 2018 New Women’s Voices Contest, Finishing Line Press)
ART / Women Artists
ISBN: 978-1-951651-49-7 (print; softcover; perfect bound)
Released November 2020
Sharon Tracey is a writer and editor, and author of the poetry collection What I Remember Most Is Everything (All Caps Publishing, 2017). Her poems have appeared in The Worcester Review, Mom Egg Review, Tule Review, and The Ekphrastic Review, among others. Art and nature are recurring themes in her work, and art and painting have been lifelong passions. Prior to returning to writing full-time, she worked at the University of Massachusetts Amherst as a director of environmental programs and later as a communications director. She holds a Master's degree from the University of California, Berkeley and lives in western Massachusetts.
“Sharon Tracey’s ekphrases effortlessly transport you to other worlds and eras, but at the same time, deeper into your self. These poems are dizzy with just the right words. They remind us that the variety and elasticity of language is a profound pleasure. The images are so vivid that each poem is almost a painting of a painting. Tracey follows the invitation of new and favorite female artists to experience life from different perspectives and places. Her curiosity, astute observatory powers, and formidable flare for words makes this collection a rare treasure.”
“In Chroma, art grows from art—organically, compellingly, and in such a way that the reader sees with a botanist’s eye and a mystic’s sense of revelation. This book draws us backward in time, but also inwards: into the mind of a modern viewer, into the lives of women painters across the centuries, and into their paintings, which are not only creations, but characters, catalysts, windows, worlds. And, yes, also poems, all ‘waiting to become another thing.’ Tracey’s work is transformational: ‘infinite / more intimate— / an opening,’ an invitation to apprehend, to experience and to create.
“‘What language it is I don’t know/ but I love to read it,’ Sharon Tracey writes in ‘On Me Fait Signe,‘ a poem about a 1964 painting of the same name by Natalie Dumitrescu. As any poet knows, the best ekphrasis is much more than the depiction of a single image, the placement of objects, the slant of light. In Chroma, Tracey has achieved a multifaceted dialogue, a meditation, a meeting place created between the artist and the poet, the art and the poem coming to fruition. Chroma examines individual works by women artists merging themes of motherhood, sisterhood, love, work, spirituality, the full spectrum of what it means to be human, a woman, and a creator. But this collection isn’t merely a catalogue of the work of women artists. Chroma is a wholly unique collaboration, in which Tracey not only dialogues with an eclectic group of artists including Frida Kahlo, Agnes Martin, and Kay Sage, but with the reader, with each artwork, and the parts of herself engaged, and subsequently altered, by the artistic moment. Throughout the collection, the reader witnesses the poet, an artist herself, sometimes grappling with, sometimes suddenly illuminated by, these great works of visual art. What does it mean to truly see the world around us? How does the artist transform the mundane into art? How do we form a connection with the world and the artist through the art object? Tracey engages these questions and more through a delicate balance of seeking and receiving. ‘The light standing in for the sound/as it splits the darkest rock and leaves its recording/the light standing in for the sound.’ This is ekphrasis at its most transcendent.”
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