A little verbal-visual entertainment for you today. Longtime MV all-star Katie McCormick appeared in Pittsburgh Friday, and on Saturday we went to check out the 2020 exhibition at Carnegie Museum of Art. Among the photos, paintings, sculptures, and video pieces was this attached sculpture called "Cleopatra’s Cape," 1973, by Barbara Chase-Riboud (Rub: I chose a drab bar). It was one of several pieces she did on the Cleopatra theme, and produced contemporaneously with a book of poems titled Portrait of a Nude Woman as Cleopatra. The wall text noted the hemp, wire, and bronze of which the sculpture is made, and that it "manifests diasporic beauty, femininity, strength, and a quiet evocation of the unknown." Why diasporic? Perhaps because Chase-Riboud was a Philadelphia-born artist then living in Paris. Perhaps because the visuals also took inspiration from her travels in China, and the clothing of the Han empire.
Chase-Riboud was born in 1928, and is acclaimed for her art as well as her novels and poetry. Her first novel, Sally Hemings, won several prizes and also a landmark copyright infringement case, when she got a large settlement from a playwright who clearly lifted some of her prose for his play "Dusky Sally" in the early 1980s. She also won a settlement later from one of the screenwriters of Steven Spielberg’s Amistad, who did not acknowledge his study of (and work on a screenplay based on) her novel Echo of Lions.
I couldn’t find many of her shorter works online, but here is an appropriate piece for the sculpture. -ed.
ANTHONY & CLEOPATRA: THE YEAR 40 B.C.
I have done thee,
You’ve done to me tenfold.
And so we stand quits and quivering,
In love without faith.
For the honest love of one other,
Has made every man hate
The dishonest love of another.
For reasons of our own
That tender thread
Now I’ll leave