Arts+Culture

Arts+Culture

We Are the Eighth Day, © Melanie Weidner

Books

Signed, Sealed, Delivered, by Nina Sankovitch

Nina Sankovitch explores the meaning and value of letters in our post-postal age.

Books

Penelope Fitzgerald, by Hermione Lee

Penelope Fitzgerald wrote her first novel at 60 and became famous at 80. "How does she do it?" asked A. S. Byatt. Hermione Lee tries to answer.

Books

The Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi, edited by Gianfranco Malafarina

In The Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi, the darling among splendidly artistic cathedrals is stunningly brought to life.

On Art

Birdman, by Joe Light

Joe Light was a towering, often disturbing figure in his Memphis community. He aligned himself with the prophets and considered himself a kind of Moses. Before he became an artist, he was incarcerated. In prison in 1960, he heard a preacher explore the Old Testament, and he returned to his cell with the sound of a voice in his head. Commenting on the experience later, he said that he thought he was losing his mind. He tested the voice: “‘If you are God, prove it.’ ‘Step up to the cell door,’ the voice answered, ‘and I’m going to let a bird land on that window sill . . . Tell it what to do, and it will do it.’ And sure enough the bird landed on it . . . That bird on that man’s head is like the spirit of God. I felt the presence of God following me regularly.” While various versions of the birdman exist, this image remains Light’s signature piece. Light was a bit of a loose cannon, said Kevin Gordon, owner of Gordon Gallery in Nashville, “but he was also a man whose personal beliefs were strong, and who wasn’t the least bit afraid to share them with anyone, no matter the consequences.”