Home Authors Posts by Kathy Y. Wilson
Kathy Y. Wilson
Cincinnati is woefully small for black artists. It’s not that everybody knows everybody else; it’s that everybody knows everybody else’s business. Case in point: Back in November 2005, when Thom Shaw fell gravely ill shortly after being named the Taft Museum of Art’s Duncanson Artist-in-Residence, the news crackled across the black grapevine at gallery receptions, jazz shows, even the grocery store. Everyone was concerned. For two decades, Shaw, a world-renowned printmaker, had battled a succession of illnesses exacerbated by diabetes. But that fall, he slipped into a coma caused by a severe neck infection brought on by kidney failure. He came close to death...then got a reprieve. Last May, concern for his health bubbled across the local scene again when an infection of flesh-eating bacteria led to the amputation of his right leg. And yet, less than two months later, Shaw fastened on a mocha-brown prosthesis and headed back to the studio. Super-animated Batman fight sounds seemed to hang in the air, narrating the resilient artist’s fight to live: KAPOW! KIDNEY FAILURE...BANG! DIABETES...TAKE THAT, MORTALITY!
The epic proportions of the shooting that links them forever has morphed their names into one: ArthurandMargaret. This is how they’ve come to be known at schools, community centers, and stop-the-violence meetings in beleaguered neighborhoods across the city. They are a dark, intriguing Sonny-&-Cher act with a relationship that leaves dangling more questions than it answers. Like: What’s the lesson in their tragedy? What’s the shelf-life on forgiveness? And what of redemption? When she shows up, will she spread herself equitably? The answers are in the living and in the telling.
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