The Art Room

by Shara McCallum

"Because we did not have threads of turquoise, silver, and gold, we could not sew a sun nor sky. And our hands became balls of fire. And our arms spread open like wings."

In this first stanza of the poem, McCallum is saying that the "threads" of society hold us down into thinking a certain way. Yet she says without these restricting "threads" we are free to think and feel on our own accord, thus allowing us able to be creative and different.

"Because we had no chalk or pastels, no toad, forest, or morning-grass slats of paper, we had no colour for creatures. So we squatted and sprang, squatted and sprang."

In the second stanza, McCallum continues to promote breaking free of society's views, especially concerning race. She says that society has given us chalk and pastels to color and label each other, differentiating the whites, blacks, asians, indians, and so many other people. She says that if we did not have color, we would would not label and separate people by race and appearance, allowing for less hatred in the world. We would become like children, accepting, innocent, and loving towards all.

"Four young girls, plaits heavy on our backs, our feet were beating drums, drawing rhythms from the floor; our mouths became woodwinds; our tongues touched teeth and were reeds."

Finally, in the third, and last stanza of this poem, Shara McCallum reveals what it would be like if society changed it's judgmental views of different races and cultures. The people of the world would be happy, rejoicing at the freedom and just treatment of all individuals. The "four young girls" could be pertaining to the four directions (North, East, South, and West) of the world, meaning all directions and all areas of the world would be free of society's oppressive beliefs.


The overall theme of The Art Room is that breaking free of the oppressive views of society on race will allow for the world to be come a more loving, innocent, and accepting place, much like a child.

About Shara McCallum

On October 18, 1972, Shara McCallum was born. McCallum was raised in Jamaica, and moved to the U.S. with her Venezuelan mother and Jamaican father at age nine. With the help of a BA from Miami University, an MFA from Maryland University, a PhD from Binghamton University, and a deep family history, McCallum has written four collections of poems. The four works, The Song of Thieves, This Strange Land, The Water Between Us, and The Face of Water: New and Selected Poems center around race, gender, personal identity, and history.
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