On Art

Back Window and Welcome Home, by Leslie Williams

Artist and color theorist Josef Albers influenced generations of artists. Among them is Leslie Williams. She describes the impact of his thought as the beginning of “a love affair with color . . . the purity of color as expression.” Something as basic as an exploration of color introduces new layers, new contrasts, a new language for art built from hue, density, pigment, and light. Sometimes moments of change, tragedy, or devastation open a different way of noticing brightness and color. Take for instance priest-poet Richard Hendrick’s writing about the coronavirus: “They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise / you can hear the birds again . . . The sky is no longer thick with fumes / but blue and grey and clear.” Is that what color does when the surrounding noise is removed, when the busy searching city eye can rest for a long moment? What happens may be not only a sacred encounter with color fields but a new kind of view from the back window or a discovery of yellow gold streaking across the darkness, a welcome home.