Juneteenth ~ ekphrastic poem


Joy has the power
to lift the shadows of sorrow.
Though they may persist,
they do not cancel
celebration, which has a power
of its own. To own that
is an expression of freedom.

The sculpture above, titled “Adjacent,” is by Chad La Fever and is being dedicated Sunday as part of Juneteenth celebrations in Jefferson City, Missouri (the state capital). The sculpture, made from silicon bronze with a clear lacquer seal and wax, stands about 7 feet tall and is one of many planned for Community Park in the Historic Foot District Area Sculpture Series, a focus on the experiences of African American Jefferson City residents during the world wars and segregation. About the sculpture, the artist says,

“The sculpture is a commentary on segregated co-existence and represents the very different lives of Black and white people living near one another, yet worlds apart. “Both figures are standing together in familiar and intimate proximity, but a wide gulf existing between the figures prevents them from being fully engaged. With heads hung and nearly in contact, there is a sense of sadness, hesitation and resignation. But there is also the feeling that the two figures are coming together with the intention of moving forward.”



Upper image by mi esposa


11 thoughts on “Juneteenth ~ ekphrastic poem

  1. Ken, this has to be the best Juneteenth icon I’ve ever encountered – and your verse makes it all the more potent. “Joy has the power / to lift the shadows of sorrow” – reading this after spending the morning in a workshop on joy – and while the statue is depicting skin color heritages, the positions could also represent conservative & liberal persuasions independent of race – red & blue. Texas has recognized Juneteenth as long as I can recall, and it’s great to have it become a national holiday, to observe its significance beyond Texas. If and when I get back to Missouri, I’ll try to see this in person.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Jazz. It’s an impressive sculpture, especially considering the artist’s words. I understand there will be signage, as well. I’m sure you would appreciate it in person. If that ever happens, let me know.

      Liked by 1 person

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