Browns and Rusts: Meditations On J. Kirk Richards (Part I)

In my opinion, J. Kirk Richards* is one of the shining lights—the suns, really—of Mormon visual art. His work is well-crafted, poignant, spiritual, and deeply affective.

When I first came across his paintings, most notably Cherubim and a Flaming Sword, I connected with his world on such a human level that I felt constrained to write about it. And yet, I also sensed that some critical exposition titled something like “The Judeo-Christian Symbolism of J. Kirk Richard’s Paintings” wouldn’t do my response—or his art, for that matter—justice.

So I decided to converse with him in another way, to respond to his art with mine.

Thus was born Browns and Rusts, my ekphrastic, poetic meditations on J. Kirk Richards. The first link in this paragraph will take you to a PDF of part I of Browns and Rusts, which includes the six poems I’ve completed to date (laid out, at this point, in no particular order), though I use that word, “completed,” tentatively: when, really, is a piece of writing ever fully complete? I should say, then, that I’m comfortable enough with where these poems are for the moment that I wanted to share them with AMV’s readers. Other poems for the collection are in process, so sometime in the (who-knows-when) future, I’ll post more here.

As always, I invite your comments and suggestions—your presence in and response to my world-in-process.

*My apologies to Kirk for getting his first name wrong the first time through; it’s Joel, not John. Don’t know where I got my misinformation from. Now that I’m sufficiently embarrassed, it won’t happen again…

5 thoughts on “Browns and Rusts: Meditations On J. Kirk Richards (Part I)”

  1. I’ve been meaning to write a JKR post for years, but I’m not very good at art criticism. Of course, it never occurred to me to write poetry instead.

    I enjoyed them very much. Thanks, Tyler.

  2. Thanks for commenting, Th. and Wm. Sometimes I think the best response to art (visual, literary, etc.) is another work of art, though I’m not sure how my poems stand up to the strength of JKR’s paintings…

  3. Tyler,

    Thank you for your beautiful poetry. I think it’s lovely, and I’m flattered that anyone (let alone someone with talent) would be inspired to write poetry base on my pictures. I have read prose responses to my work, each trying to define or encapsulate the work or its value into finite terms. Your poetry leaves things open-ended, which is the way I prefer the work to be experienced.

    Thank you.

    I have one correction to make, which has nothing to do with the poetry (which I would never presume to critique.) My first name is actually Joel–not John–a minor detail in the grand scheme of things.

    Thanks again for your poetry.


  4. Kirk:

    My apologies for getting your name wrong. I’ve updated the post to reflect reality and now that I’m sufficiently embarrassed, it won’t happen ever again…

    I appreciate you stopping by to read the poems and to comment (and to correct a case of mistaken identity). I’m glad I could capture what you feel is the experience of your paintings. They’ve come up a few times in this forum and I know many of us have responded to their open-ended affectiveness in one way or another. I should be the one thanking you for that experience. So, thanks.

    And there are more poems to come, so I’ll contact you again when I post my next response.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s