Once the decision had been made to publish Songs from the Black Skylark zPed Music Player, only one image was seriously considered for the cover art. Readers of Elemental The Power of Illuminated Love, the book of ekphrastic art and poetry, may have recognized it immediately as a panel from the painting titled Christ Listening to Stereo by Luther E. Vann.
It was an easy and natural fit. Vann’s original 1987-1989 paining is a 34 x 72” acrylic on canvas with an off-centered division placing the two dominant characters on the left and multidimensional activities on the right. The greater amount of activity appears to be occurring on the right side of the painting with clusters of individuals interacting in a variety of ways: socially, sexually, spiritually, or unmindful or each others' individual realities.
Preview pages from ELEMENTAL the Power of Illuminated Love
The beams emanating from the heads, or headsets, of the principal characters on the left indicate they have a higher awareness of all that is happening in the visible and invisible worlds surrounding them. But this does not mean they have a comprehensive understanding of those worlds. The situation is precisely like that faced by Danny Blue and Valerie Hyerman in Songs from the Black Skylark zPed Music Player.
Confronting the Mysteries of the Multiverse
Take, for one interesting example in the painting, a third figure on the left side that seems to be disappearing into the wall that divides the canvas, but which is not seen emerging among the figures on the right side. Has it entered into an alternate reality or universe different from the one revealed? Or has the figure in fact re-emerged in an evolved form much the way Valerie and Danny Blue do as they confront the mysteries and dangers reshaping their existence in the pages of the novel?
The original models for Vann’s painting were two youths who happened to be sitting across from him one evening on a subway train in New York City. They wore music headphones that made them oblivious to the bodies huddling around them. Their heads nodded discreetly to private beats and every ten or twenty seconds they would look at each other to share a knowing smile. To Vann, it felt like they were in a self-created universe tucked inside what he had come to recognize as the greater infinite multiverse in which we all measure the hard-earned sorrows and treasured passions of our days and nights.
Soul of a Black Skylark Singing
“The words ‘I Love You’ kill, and resurrect millions, in less than a second.”
(from the poem Christ Listening to Stereo by Aberjhani)
The current cover art is also significant because it continues a tradition established by the book’s earlier edition, Christmas When Music Almost Killed the World, which also employed art by Vann. The original cover art for it was called “Soul of a Black Skylark Singing” and featured two embattled angelic beings in the foreground with a questionable presence crouching in the background.
Are the angelic figures seen on the first cover the same as the glowing individuals seen on the second? In a multiverse with parallel worlds quietly vibrating beside each other anything is possible.
© 13 March 2016
Bright Skylark Literary Productions