|Beth Shadur, Lois Roma-Deeley
Arguing with Angels
mixed media on paper with etched glass
music and sound: Christopher Scinto
voice: Lois Roma-Deeley
48" x 33"
(Photo: Tom Van Endye)
Arguing With Angels
It is the August thunder storms that speak
for me. The voices from outside of time
will press their lips to both my cheeks and weep,
What do you want? “Just give me what is mine,”
I say to threads of silver dust that cling
to shaking window shades. What will you have?
How can they answer blood and bone? Nothing
to say? the dancing echoes spin and laugh
at me. I may not own the heart that pumps
uncertainly inside my chest; or holds
my breath within or lets it go; but what comes
through yellow rooms to open me is cold.
It drinks the rain; it asks, “How will you live?”
I make my hands a cup: with only this.
Artist Beth Shadur and Poet Lois Roma-Deeley
(with Musician Christopher Scinto)
Beth Shadur and Lois Roma-Deeley have collaborated in a variety of forms since meeting in 2003 at the
Ragdale Foundation, where both were fellows. Shadur has created a series of works interpreting Roma-
Deeley’s poetry, integrating text with her own visual images. In the newest work, Shadur and Roma-
Deeley met again at Ragdale to discuss the latest collaboration, to include musician Chris Scinto, with
whom Roma-Deeley is creating a jazz opera. Their ongoing collaborative process has been the catalyst for
a paradigm shift in their work, created in dialogue.
The poem, Arguing with Angels, etched into the glass of the painting, is a focal point in Lois Roma-Deeley's
newest poetry manuscript, High Notes, a work based on fictional characters. The voice in this poem is that
of Jake Delmonico, a 1950's jazz saxophonist who struggles with heroin addiction and redemption. The
secondary voice in this poem (the portion in italics) is that of a redeeming Angel.
The poem, written as a sonnet, is an argument about choosing the sacred over the profane. Jake, in the
tradition of John Milton's Satan, prefers the profane nature of Jake's absolute wants and desires. And it is
with bitter disappointment that he listens to the Angel’s final answer to Jake's questions about how to live a
truly human life.
Shadur’s painting uses simultaneous symbols of beauty and danger to reflect more abstractly on the poem’
s discourse on evil and redemption. The poet’s voice, set to Scinto’s music, adds a multi-layered dimension
to the experience of the visual work of art.
watercolor with colored pencil