A young Black woman, topless in a white skirt and bare feet, crouches in a small courtyard garden. An array of hung plants, pots, and watering cans form the backdrop. She stares directly at the camera from the center of the frame.

In Potted Earth (2019), Stone kneels before the succulents overflowing from the pots and planters in her grandmother’s garden. With no initial soil and little space, Stone's grandmother utilized an innovative vertical method of display for her plants, attaching baskets to the bars lining the outdoor space. Long, vertical blinds visible from the interior space work with the metal fence to direct the wandering eye back down to a crouching Stone. Here, she wears a white skirt—a color the artist has said she feels called to wear, incidentally a color most associated with the Yoruba orisha Oshala, the Creator. Now Stone has jettisoned her top; here in her grandmother’s garden she lets down her guard. She does not expose herself to the viewer or for the viewer, but instead the hint of exposure communicates to us that she is at home—this is her Eden.

They are all irrefutably linked, and yet few artists have managed to so effortlessly bring all of this—gender, race, class, the environment, and spirituality—into conversation. Chanell Stone's Natura Negra series does just that and more. Her portraits speak to our history, that of displacement, migration, the struggle for belonging, and the resilience of Black and Native womxn when in communion with the natural world.

Re-Natured

Chanell Stone’s Natura Negra Series

Lucia Olubunmi Momoh

“to know”

what place do bodies of color have in this coated american legacy,

with loaded guns like white heresies, down beyond the red counties, 

where they were led to slaughter, to endure the bleachings, all by fire,

 

& told to listen to pale, masked, moscato abolitionism in a marked 

place entirely shaken by the truth-roots of a living, breathing racism? 

white milkmother, how i wish that i could be sorry for you, wish that 

 

i could drink that suburban honey with you when/but/i have my own 

honeycombs waxing & waning in my womb, yes lord, golden-pearls 

in place of those birthright-blue-green eyes of you & yours. tell me,

 

what god is audacious enough to claim this world, where i learned to

languish for the tongues of colonizers & called it poise? a coy world  

where i’ll not ignore the color of my skin, no, nevermore, & somewhere

 

a beautiful, dark magdelena sobs, continues to hold us on her shoulders.

what would i say then? a refrain to my own child: “welcome, daughter to 

a world where our pasts, presents, & appointed futures are deftly woven 

 

into nooses & latitudes & vicissitudes. we can recall a time, once, when in 

a dreamlike state we dared still pine for, when we closed our ethnic eyes 

toward, a big, bright town library & thought it was so rightly a castle in 

 

the sky.” & what place do we have in this dragged world? a world where 

too late do mothers tell their daughters, “you are not an island, 

woman.” mother, mommy, i know. i have always known.

“korean kintsugi” – or, “the broken lamps inside us”

hyun-joo kim

“korean kintsugi”

not long after the first grade i stopped proudly telling people

i was adopted before they asked. i realized the deep pity in 

their eyes, the concern. the way they play along, nod & fold 

their hands. or pray for me. i saw that they could look at me

& already know,

 

but not understand. in high school i met more asian people

& felt a different pity, or the hot flush of ignorance. i tried 

to read korean, once, thinking it would all rush back into me.

but my mother tongue is english, & i was very young

when they took me away

 

or when i broke an expensive lamp which belonged to my 

adopted mother’s father i felt such shame, not for the shards, 

but because i don’t know what it’s like to hold a porcelain

light & feel transported, homeward. but homeless, surely.

i myself am an imported lamp.

 

i only really know the sting of cultural hunger, the words 

oriental" & "girl," the ache of unremembered tethers, over-

flowing, as if in a landfill. or the knowledge that “born in seoul, 

korea” marks you, brands you like a cow

 

there are no real words for us. where is the feeling of oksusu-cha 

in wintertime, shared among friends? who writes our own heroic 

odysseys? do any of us actually care about the wide windows white 

people longingly stare out of? i have felt this absence all my life, this

apocalyptic rapture in the  

 

distance, like a soundless, wordless terror we all know but cannot 

name. i know i could glue these broken lamps back together, string 

them up bright with golden paste. but if only i could transform back 

into a paper tiger, & run

not needing the promise of wholeness.

“persimmon song”

i like to keep unripe persimmons in the house now—they keep us

patient by temping us with tenderness, & honest by threatening their lessons in chalk & astringency—& because i have such

 

but not understand. in high school i met more asian people

& felt a different pity, or the hot flush of ignorance. i tried 

to read korean, once, thinking it would all rush back into me.

but my mother tongue is english, & i was very young

when they took me away

 

or when i broke an expensive lamp which belonged to my 

adopted mother’s father i felt such shame, not for the shards, 

but because i don’t know what it’s like to hold a porcelain

light & feel transported, homeward. but homeless, surely.

i myself am an imported lamp.

 

i only really know the sting of cultural hunger, the words 

oriental" & "girl," the ache of unremembered tethers, over-

flowing, as if in a landfill. or the knowledge that “born in seoul, 

korea” marks you, brands you like a cow

 

there are no real words for us. where is the feeling of oksusu-cha 

in wintertime, shared among friends? who writes our own heroic 

odysseys? do any of us actually care about the wide windows white 

people longingly stare out of? i have felt this absence all my life, this

apocalyptic rapture in the  

 

distance, like a soundless, wordless terror we all know but cannot 

name. i know i could glue these broken lamps back together, string 

them up bright with golden paste. but if only i could transform back 

into a paper tiger, & run

not needing the promise of wholeness.

a desire to house them.

the whole korean drama of