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It’s All About the Story, Volume IX: Jaki Shelton Green

February 14 - March 26


In 2013 the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts began an annual show highlighting the work of a local writer by responding visually to his or her work. In the past, this show has been inspired by the work of writers with local ties: Michael Malone, Lee Smith, Allan Gurganus, Jill McCorkle, Nancy Peacock, John Bemis, Elizabeth Keckly and composer Billy Strayhorn. This year the show returns, after a two year COVID hiatus, with a show spotlighting the work of North Carolina Poet Laureate Jaki Shelton Green. The gallery’s 21 artists have each chosen a poem from Ms. Green’s book Breath of the Song as inspiration for a work of art in their chosen medium.
Photographer Eric Saunders was struck by her poem “Rumors” the opening lines of which read: “what could the clouds be whispering about me? They don’t even know my name – and later in the poem – girl, cloud know your name moon too stars told ‘em”. Two of Eric’s photographs were inspired by this poem.
In the poem “i know the grandmother one had hands”, the poet speaks about her grandmother’s life, using hands to symbolize the whole person. The poem ends with those hands poking holes in the clouds so the rain could fall. Chris Graebner took the image one step further and imagined the grandmother’s hands catching that rain, in her painting “I Know the Grandmother One Had Hands to Catch the Rain.”
Artist Nancy Smith’s painting “i know the grandmother one had hands” was inspired by the same poem. “On reading it, I was flooded with memories of my grandmother. Her hands embraced the hard life as a farmer’s wife- tilling the soil, milking cows, rendering pork and burying two of her seven children. Long deceased, she continues to hold me gently within her hands as I wrap myself in the quilt she stitched from clothes I wore as a child.”
Sculptor Lynn Wartski took imagery in the poem “eva” to create a piece called “Rabbit Games and Midnight Rainbows” from the lines “tongues spoken from the ears are seen at night and only precede midnight rainbows we played the games of rabbits”.
The poem “praise song” resonated with Jude Lobe, speaking to her about connecting with nature and respecting what it has to teach us. “My artwork is a young girl dancing with a tree and within that tree the girl sees a soul.”
For Catharine Carter the poetry in Breath of the Song is, like her own work, all about relationships and family. “I think of my images as visual poetry and similar to the poetry of Jacki Shelton Green. Like her, I am interested in human relationships and interactions.”
Eduardo Lapetina took the title of a collection of poems “Singing a Tree into Dance” as inspiration for an abstract painting. “I think that I was able to translate this idea from Jaki Green into a happy painting and that my image will provoke everyone to dance!”
The images in this volume of poetry provided fertile inspiration for the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts’ 21 visual artists. Their work will be on display from February 14th through March 26th with a reception in the gallery on February 24th from 6-9pm. In addition, the gallery will host a reading by Ms. Green in the gallery on Sunday, March 12th from 4-6pm. Both events are free and open to the public.

About the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts
The Hillsborough Gallery of Arts is owned and operated by 21 local artists and represents these established artists exhibiting contemporary fine art and fine craft. The Gallery’s offerings include paintings, sculpture, ceramics, photography, textiles, jewelry, glass, metals, encaustic, enamel, and wood. 121 N. Churton Street, Hillsborough, NC 27278. Phone: (919) 732-5001. The gallery is open 10am-6pm Tuesday – Saturday, and 12pm-4pm on Sunday. More information can be found on the HGA website:


February 14
March 26
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121 N Churton St, Hillsborough, NC 27278-2533, United States
121 N Churton St
Hillsborough, NC 27278 United States
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