Joe Light's artistic vision considers the challenge of how to reach a farther shore of rightness with God, awareness of the founding oppression of his people, and personal fulfillment. To the riddles of riverness, his senses of theology, history, and autobiography respond with two human presences: the "hobo" and the "birdman." They occupy the nearer banks of rivers—our flawed reality—in search of ways across to the unpopulated, pure spaces the river sheaths. The possessionless hobo wanders the river's edge in hopes of a better opportunity, while the birdman seeks to take flight. These two figures encapsulate Light's life as drifter and revelator, and reflect on the deep paradoxes of secular and sacred African American responses to psychological and economic domination within a racialized society. Meanwhile, two plastic place mats—one featuring a reproduction of the United States Capitol, the other, a nostalgic scene of ice-skating on a frozen pond—situated between the two personifications of his quest. The place mats are pressed behind glass. How to partake of America's feast? the piece asks.


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