Get the Ball to Harriet

December 10, 2020

“Get the Ball to Harriet” is a piece by Lexington artist Frank X Walker. This painting is on display through April 17 as part of The Art of Being Black: Conversation and Experience.

Walker says of his work for this show: “As a writer & visual artist I am interested in how text and images can work together to heighten meaning. In this age of emoji and communicating by cell phones, people seem to pay more attention to graphic images, acronyms, and language shortcuts with no intention of surrendering the depth or complexity longer missives generally convey.

I utilize these same short cuts to discuss large and complicated histories and narratives in a two dimensional space. This stripping down of sensitive and painful subjects is not meant to sanitize or erase the trauma they contain, but to serve as a starting point for necessary conversations that must be had around race.”

Gain a deeper understanding of this piece – which uses the symbolism of sports to present a narrative about the underground railroad – through the video below. You can also read the poem referenced by the artist by clicking here.

reserved seating

This is the polite section,
cultured buttermilk until I arrive
without khakis or a blazer
to join a VIP sidecar
next to the eRupption zone.

In these seats, nobody stands
except for anthems
and My Old Kentucky Home.
And nobody yells, or screams at referees.

It is just close enough to see
beads of sweat,
but still far enough away
to not get any on them.

As I squeeze through the aisle,
visibly unfermented,
stunned faces check their tickets,
needing to confirm
that these are not the cheap seats.

They steal glances sideways,
wait for the explanation
I refuse to give.
I pretend disinterest in their icebreakers,
pretend I don’t hear
when they forget they aren’t alone,
pretend I don’t notice
how they glare
at the Black bodies
on the other team, or
how cold and mean they get
when their boys aren’t winning.

– Frank X Walker

From Ink Stains & Watermarks: New and Uncollected Poems, Duncan Hill Press, 2017