“Immortality.” I answered.
For once, he had no retort.
Artists remain alive in our conscious, remain relevant to our soul, always. In different ways, yes. In very personal moments, definitely. In the quiet and in the noise, artist’s work scream history and whisper emotion. Forever.
“If you can separate an artist from his art, one of them isn’t real.” My contribution to the “sell out” discussion of the 90’s. Since then the bigger lesson on art that I’ve learned is: Once an artist gives his creation to the world, it is no longer his. It’s no longer his to decide how it moves, what it forms, even what it means. We’ve seen over this month here on The Road so many pieces of music that may have been written with one intention, or “meaning,” but the song, once flowed into the world, takes on its own “meaning” to the individuals listening, living, and being in the moments where the music and life collide.
I love that. I think it makes every piece of art bigger than the moment it was created. Art is an extension of the “meaning” of humanity, of worth, of voice, or passion, of rage, of hope, of all the particles that make us alive.
Today’s story speaks to all of this.
Lyrics by Mellisa Riggio.
I’m in the Ring outside
I’m following my belief
I’m looking at the sky
I saw God following my heart
I’m an ordinary woman
The Ring is falling down my way
The wind is blowing me away
The Ring is falling down,
down my way
The wind is blowing me away
And so I came back to
The center of the Ring
Am I just a broken angel?
God has sent me here to heal
To be an ordinary woman
Miss Riggio, a young woman with Down syndrome, wrote this while a student still in high school. Her website has two blog entries. The first is from January 2007 about the musician and vocalist Rachel Fuller:
“Rachel is a good friend – she has helped me develop my talent as a singer songwriter. Without her encouragement and wisdom, my dreams would have stayed just dreams. Thanks Rachel, you’re the best.”
Fuller put Riggio’s poem to music. Listen here:
“As so many of you know, Melissa was diagnosed with leukemia last summer and since that time she fought long and hard to overcome the disease. Last June, she graduated from Bernards High School in Bernardsville, New Jersey, where she was crowned Prom Queen. Melissa was so grateful to the many people who reached out to offer their support by donating blood, platelets, and sending cards and letters. Through it all, Melissa remained strong and optimistic. She was an inspiration to everyone who had the opportunity to know her.”
The full obituary ran in the NYTimes on April 9, 2008.
Since Mellisa Riggio gave her art to the world, her voice lives on. I feel fortunate to have discovered her work and have assimilated her art into my world. Her poetry, however she meant when she wrote it, lives and speaks to me.