An empty canvas is like a child’s brain. A clean slate. A reservoir. A carapace that hasn’t been filled with the beauty of expression. One can manipulate and paint what one had in the brain.

What is bare flesh but an empty canvas? While razors inflict pain, the needle gun is a sensation unlike any other. To feel anemia taking hold. To feel a memory, an art, an idea, a symbol or a piece of you exposed and immortalized for all to witness is one’s offering of expression.

(2007) Peace and Sin are created. Ever struggling to maintain our moral obligations. Always choosing between right and wrong. As symbolized here, the two birds depicted as a dove and crow hold onto any reaction life might present. The rose vine is thorny as each reaction of each moral decision is often painful to a degree. But it will always remain as we constantly endure these decisions day after day.

(2009) The itch was too great. It was supposed to be huge and it was. Edna, a colossal tree of destiny that might have been in full emerald bloom but now sits decayed. Sin and Peace fly high and govern each path of the branches as they represent each decision ever made. Notice that no branch ends anywhere because despite moving along in life, we still end up in a situation all too familiar. The massive symbol chiseled within ancient tree bark carries the concept that love conquers all. That no matter what path one takes, the love of a “soul mate” will ultimately allow one to do anything. While I’d like this to be true, it is a constant reminder to never invest yourself entirely in another person. Never worship the ground she walks for she will either become exhausted by your efforts or overly advantageous by your selflessness.

(2010) Desiree is a fallen star. Whether real or not, my old best friend and I have stained ourselves with these keepsakes to bind us in memory forever.

(2012) Floating high above the world is Chester and his famous hot air balloon. Inspired by Modest Mouse, I realized that everything in this life is temporary. Always a gentleman but never over-zealous, I am as quiet as this mouse. With each temporal experience and feeling, I know that despite what happens, life will continue. In other words, we’ll float on because such trivial things no longer matter.

(2014) The best leader is a self leader. Always strong, unwavering in integrity. Cecil poses gloriously. Despite any negativity one might endure, the best way to go about situations is logically, proudly and with the utmost seriousness. The male lion is the leader of the pack, yes, but Cecil only leads himself.

(2016) Most crave the material world while attempting to maintain a spiritual connection- to something. Yes, most tend to revel in their things: food, airfare, sex, etc. I find myself, more so every day, yearning for some sense of spirituality while remaining in a corrupt world of materialism.

William Blake was a philosopher whose thoughts transcended our world. The material world, to Blake, is the evil world; the conditions never change. When he wrote “The Book of Thel,” his protagonist was a fallen soul who wanted nothing more than to return to her own Heaven. Like Thel, I am trapped in the same world longing for any sense of power that might offer answers past the threshold of this life. And with no time, I cannot begin to explore such possibilities. So I am forced to let the material things captivate me. Time passes more easily with possessions but this world is not the answer for what I am looking.

(2016-17?) The itch has become unbearable and due to a depressing demeanor recently; I understand isolation has become a burden to me for some time.

Franz Kafka illustrated this sense of isolation grotesquely in the novella “The Metamorphisis.” A stag beetle would be ideal. With wings out, depicting the split face of man while the exposed body reveals a skull. This is to represent our alienation and isolation from the world….feeling as immobile as a bug on its back yet completely conscious of everything. If this part of the canvas is to be painted, his name will be Gregor.

While most simply look at art upon a body as ink; my body is an antique oil painting of my person. Look a second time and know my mindset. Look a third and know my character. Look again in a few years and see the capacity for love and the desire for a life of simplicity and authenticity. Look at me as a painting. For me, that is to say:

I am a work of art.


Alexander Brown is a senior English major who has written over 200 poems and 50 short stories. The essay and poems in this issue are his first publications.