A selection of paintings exploring femininity and creative identity by New York City-based artist Marie Peter-Toltz. Creating a dialogue between poetry and art, Peter-Toltz’ latest exhibition saw her work placed alongside that of American poet Michael Bernicchi. Check out more images, as well as Bernicchi’s poetic responses, below!
My Son’s Room – In Response to Shakti
My son doesn’t know the past as I do;
his room – three walls in jungle motif, like a wild fort –
one with blank canvas – canopy bed set
like a prince traveling the Nile,
Ganges, reaching out to new lands.
He doesn’t see himself
strolling on protected shores
in the footsteps of Divine Mother,
bathing in the mist
ten thousand years ago.
To my son, the world is new;
his room is just a room
filled with stuffed animals
and jagged crayon marks
that don’t fracture time.
He doesn’t see my hand in his,
feel its brush in the wind,
or understand that the polka dots
on the border
are portals to his past.
Untitled – In Response to L’éternel Feminin
My mother wears my sins at her feet
like socks woven from the fabric
of her own past –
identity dependent on
which version of Genesis you subscribe to;
I can’t see my mother being young
enough to be – Chicago at eighteen – dancing,
smoking, painting herself as she walked
through Colombia, Equador, Peru, changing
phases along the way with
Ixchel’s guiding hand.
I wonder how she surrendered
backpacking the world, exploring herself,
content now in the background of her own creation.
Most of all, I
I was worth it.
Je suis – In Response to Je Suis le Tigre dans la Montagne
I used to wander as a child
like a tiger on a mountain under the bare sky
at night, manipulating the stars
by connecting dots as an atlas into mesh blankets,
and the sky became a web to explore.
I would trace the ancient maps
with my fingers as if led on a hunt
seeking self through Kurtz’s heart,
the expedition carving ivory lines
across the night,
across the same paths
my grandmothers walked,
the ones they wove through silk roads
to the east, looking back at the
journey ahead, whispered Je suis.